Gladesville Bridge officially recognised alongside Harbour Bridge as a Sydney icon
15 December 2015
For more than 50 years, Gladesville Bridge has formed a vital link for motorists travelling to and from the city across Parramatta River.
And now the iconic concrete arch, which carries more than 81,000 vehicles daily, has joined its famous big brother, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as an official Sydney icon.
Today, Gladesville Bridge became only the fourth infrastructure project in Australia to receive the highest engineering award available – official recognition from the American Society of Civil Engineers as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark
“The Gladesville Bridge has officially joined the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Western Australian Goldfields water supply project and the Snowy Mountains Scheme as being recognised for engineering excellence in this country,” a Roads and Maritime Services spokesperson said.
“Today, the American Society of Civil Engineers has presented a plaque to the NSW Government confirming the Gladesville Bridge’s place among this country’s finest engineering achievements.
“What makes this day even more special is the bridge’s designer, Tony Gee, is here today 51 years after the bridge opened to see the recognition.
“Tony was working for G. Maunsell and Partners in London at the time and the bridge was built by a partnership of United Kingdom firm Reed and Mallik and Australian firm Stuart Brothers.”
Mr Gee, who has travelled to Australia from his home in Florida to celebrate his design honour, said he was proud of his achievement.
“Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities on earth and well known as home to two of the modern engineering wonders of the world in the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House,” the 82-year-old said.
“There is no doubt in my mind Gladesville ranks alongside these two iconic structures but for some reason it has always been overshadowed by them and has never received the recognition it deserved.
“Gladesville was and always will be the first 1000 foot concrete span in the world and in the intervening years only six longer concrete arches have been built.
“Credit must go to the Main Roads Department at the time for allowing a contractor to submit bids based on alternate designs, and for accepting a design which pushed the envelope.
“The design was subjected to rigorous checking and a number of independent reviews. In fact, it felt like one of the most independently reviewed bridges in history.
“But progress is only made by doing what has not been done before and here we are celebrating this wonderful achievement 50 years on.”
The Gladesville Bridge opened on 2 October 1964, replacing a low-level two-lane iron truss bridge built in 1881.
At 305 metres, or 1000 feet, the bridge was the longest span concrete arch bridge in the world until it was superseded in 1980 by the 416 metre span Krk Bridge in Croatia.
“The unique concrete arch marked the transition from steel bridge technology including the Sydney Harbour Bridge towards concrete design and confirmed the arrival of pre-stressed concrete as a major bridge-building material in Australia,” the spokeperson continued.
“Gladesville was one also of the first bridges designed with the aid of a computer.”
Just like the Snowy Mountains Scheme, many newly arrived migrants were employed to build the bridge.
“Despite the modest safety standards at the time there were no deaths or serious injuries,” the spokesperson said.
The 50th anniversary of the opening of the first stage of the Sydney-Newcastle Expressway, now the M1 Pacific Motorway, which opened up the Central Coast and Newcastle to Sydney and the impending opening of the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale Pacific Highway upgrade were also celebrated today.
Roads and Maritime Services Media Unit 8588 5999 or email@example.com