Night time transportation from Bromelton to the Port of Brisbane of a 46m Quickcell Super Girder as part of the Port Drive Upgrade project; Night time transportation from Bromelton to the Port of Brisbane of a 46m Quickcell Super Girder as part of the Port Drive Upgrade project;

Port Drive Upgrade, Brisbane

Australian first use of Quickcell Super Girders

Located at the mouth of the Brisbane River, the Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd (PBPL) is Queensland’s largest multi-cargo port. In order to meet the growing needs of customers and industry, PBPL is delivering a $110m upgrade to Port Drive and the local road network, delivering safer and more efficient roads. As lead designer, Arup is working closely with PBPL and principal contractor Seymour Whyte Constructions Pty Ltd (Seymour Whyte) to deliver the duplication of Port Drive, construction of a four-lane overpass over the Kite Street intersection, duplication of Lucinda Drive bridge, and a separated shared path for pedestrian and cyclist use between Pritchard Street to Kite Street.

Project Summary


50,000tonnes of sustainably-sourced EME2 asphalt

80daysworth of time savings as a result of using EME2 asphalt

32%reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of lessened materials use

View from the ground of the installation of a 46m Quickcell Super Girder as part of the Port Drive Upgrade project View from the ground of the installation of a 46m Quickcell Super Girder as part of the Port Drive Upgrade project

The Port Drive Upgrade will see an Australian first innovation in the use of Quickcell Super Girders (QSGs) for the Lucinda Drive Bridge, which has the potential to transform the bridge girder market not only locally but is already generating interest overseas. It is also one of the first major road projects to employ the use of Enrobés à Module Élevé Class 2 (EME2) asphalt and will be the largest placement of this technology in Australia. 

The project is one of the first major infrastructure project in Queensland to have a requirement to achieve an excellent rating from Infrastructure Sustainability Council Australia (ISCA). Arup has led the process on this project liaising closely with Seymour Whyte and PBPL to embed sustainability in all decision making processes to deliver a project significantly more sustainable than the reference design. The project is due for completion in mid 2018.

Addressing high risk site and constructability constraints

 A key innovation on the project’s 110m Lucinda Drive bridge duplication is the use of QSGs, a new type of beam in Queensland developed by Quickcell Technology Products and Arup. QSGs can reach spans longer than the traditional Super T girders currently preferred by road authorities across Australia, which can be built to span approximately 36m. The girders used on the Port Drive Upgrade project are 46m pre-cast pre-stressed simply supported single length bridge girders and are an Australian first innovation. 

This solution was used to overcome a major project risk: buried utilities and a major Energex power line responsible for supplying power to the entire port. Constructing a pier nearby would not only be dangerous but would also run the risk of cutting off power to the port, while relocating the utilities would be costly and with similar safety issues. 

Use of these longer girders removed the need to construct two of the four piers required in the project base case, one of which was to be located in the vicinity of the power line and utilities. Arup and Seymour Whyte’s solution also provides significant advantages in terms of construction cost and programme, as well as allowing for 24/7 uninterrupted operation of the Port.

We are delighted that Seymour Whyte and the Port of Brisbane were open to implementing innovative products on this project. The EME2 product greatly improves whole of life costs, whilst the Quickcell Super Girder has mitigated major safety and constructability issues. It has been rewarding seeing the super girder constructed, having developed the product from a quick sketch through to its implementation. ”

Jeff Booker Jeff Booker Arup Project Director
A Quickcell Super Girder is installed as part of the Port Drive Upgrade project A Quickcell Super Girder is installed as part of the Port Drive Upgrade project

Transforming the bridge girder market 

The girders have gone through the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) innovation process.  Approval of the QSG would provide an additional approved pre-cast bridge option for TMR projects, enabling a pre-cast bridge girder market transformation in Queensland. It is expected that this approval could lead to market transformation throughout Australia, and there has been sufficient interest generated in the USA to market the product.

Accommodating for 3.1 million vehicles per year

Port Drive Upgrade is one of the first major road projects to use EME2 asphalt, with more than 50,000 tonnes of the sustainably-sourced asphalt to be overlaid and built. This will be the largest placement of EME2 in Australia and is one of only two projects in Queensland to use this technology, which has also been used in France, UK and South Africa.

The new technology uses a binder (bitumen) rich mix which produces a stiffer asphalt with remarkably good workability. This innovation drives a better design with reduced asphalt thicknesses for motorway pavements, which will result in better durability and fatigue resistance when compared to traditional road pavements. For the Port of Brisbane which experiences over 3 million vehicles every year, this is an important step towards reducing road maintenance costs.

The Arup team has delivered a number of truly innovative solutions on this project with a number of ‘firsts’ in Queensland and Australia. This has been achieved through close collaboration with Seymour Whyte, the Port of Brisbane, and the Department of Transport and Main Roads, along with the technical excellence and effort put in by everyone in the team. A project everyone involved should be immensely proud of. ”

Geoffrey Burns Geoff Burns Queensland Geotechnical and Maritime Leader