GEORGE TOWN, Oct 17 — In a first for Malaysia, the Second Penang Bridge today underwent the first in a series of load tests on its main navigational span despite still being incomplete.
In the load test, a total of 595 tonnes are placed along the 240m stretch of the main span of the cable stayed bridge to ensure that the bridge could withstand the weight it was built for.
“The bridge is built with a maximum capacity of 1,200 tonnes so we are testing the capacity of half of the weight but we expect with normal traffic flow, the bridge usage would come up to about 300 tonnes,” said Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB) managing director Datuk Dr Ismail Mohamed Taib.
A total of 17 trailers loaded with boulders, each trailer weighing 35 tonnes, were used for the load test.
“The load test verified that the bridge can withstand the capacity it was built for,” Ismail said after the load test was conducted today.
The 24km bridge, 16km over water, was also built to withstand an earthquake of up to 7.5 on the Richter scale.
The load test was carried out by CHEC Construction (M) Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and the appointed contractor for package one of the project.
A load test was already conducted on the approach span of package two of the project between April 22 and 26 this year and it confirmed that the portion can withstand the weight it was built for.
The load test today was conducted on the middle span. Next month, a load test will be conducted on the Batu Maung interchange where a portion of the ramp had collapsed in June while still under construction.
The series of load test is the first to be conducted in Malaysia for a newly completed bridge before it is opened to public.
Load test on new bridges is compulsory in Switzerland, France and some European countries and it is also frequently conducted on new bridges in the US.
“The load test we are conducting is part of the requirement JKSB has set for the contractors to assure the public that the bridge is able to withstand such a load in accordance to international design standards,” Ismail said.
The RM4.5 billion bridge is now near completion and is scheduled to be fully completed by Nov 8.
“The opening date to the public will be announced later upon approval from the Works Ministry,” he said.
During the first month of the opening of the bridge to public, the bridge will be toll free.
“Usage of the bridge is free for the first month before we start collecting toll after that,” he said.
JKSB is wholly owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated and is appointed as the second Penang bridge concessionaire since Aug 2008.