Bridges deal 'tops harbour spans job'

By Rosemary Roberts

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Rob Kirwan, general manager of Whangarei firm Culham Engineering, can finally talk about the major contract for KiwiRail the firm has almost completed, and he can't resist pointing out that it was a bigger contract than the spans for the city's new lower harbour crossing (which was made in China).

Confidentiality requirements prevented the firm discussing the contract when work spans for four rail bridges in the South Auckland area began at the Culham yard several months ago.

KiwiRail granted Culham's "Early Contractor Involvement" status before the firm put in a bid for the contract, which saw it work closely with Albert Smith Industries and Novera Design, of Wellington, to fine-tune design.

Early Contractor Involvement is used when contractors are recognised for capability and quality of work. A government agency invites a preferred contractor to incorporate and value engineer efficiencies into the project, so the client and contractor arrive at a true cost - a win-win, says Kirwan.

Getting it right in the KiwiRail project had involved "quite a long and extensive brainstorming process".

That done, the contract went to tender and Culham's was the successful bidder.

The two biggest bridges weighed 190 tonnes each; the smaller two 90 tonnes each. The company has installed two of the bridges, and is installing a third, with six staff based in South Auckland during the work.

"At this stage we are quite happy to blow our own trumpet and say we came up with some pretty good solutions. Our staff put out some top quality fabrication. Getting the KiwiRail contract was quite a feather in our cap and we were very pleased to have the opportunity of showcasing our quality and capability, especially when we didn't get the chance on the Whangarei lower harbour bridge."

- Northern Advocate

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