Built to last as long as Sir Leo


Hobart, Australia

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Aerial shot taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH1 point & shoot from the cabin of a Boeing 767.

Featured 05/11/11 in From the Cockpit http://www.redbubble.com/groups/from-the-cockpit Group

Featured in Queensland’s South East http://www.redbubble.com/groups/south-east-queensland-photography Group on 05/13/12

The Gateway Bridge (renamed in May 2010, together with its duplicate, the ‘Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges’) was developed as an additional crossing of the Brisbane River, to cater for traffic growth well into the 21st century.

This location was chosen to service the industrial areas in the eastern section of the city, as well as Brisbane Airport and the port facilities at Fisherman Island. The Bridge would also form part of the city bypass for traffic destined for the Pacific and Bruce highways.

In June 1980, the bridge construction contract was awarded to Transfield (Qld) Pty Ltd. Construction of the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridge – North commenced on 5 June 1980.

The Bridge owes its distinctive shape to air traffic requirements restricting its height and shipping needs for navigational clearance – providing a narrow envelope in which to construct a 1.5 kilometre bridge.

The Sir Leo Hielscher Bridge – North is 64.5 metres high and stretches 1.63 kilometres across the Brisbane River, with its main span 260 metres long.

Engineering and unique construction
The Bridge was heralded an engineering triumph of the time. At a cost of $140 million, it was a substantial investment for Queensland, taking six years to construct.

Usually projects of this size were completely designed and then constructed. The Bridge was built on a fast track system, allowing the foundations to be constructed before designers commenced the final design of the girders. This system is estimated to have saved at least two years in construction time and, as a result, the Bridge was commissioned five months ahead of schedule.

Engineers and designers faced the challenge of constructing a bridge below 80 metres in height but above 55 metres to meet air traffic and shipping navigation requirements. Long viaducts with tall piers were needed to achieve these requirements, ensuring that the maximum approach grade of 5.27% was met to suit traffic needs.

At its highest point, the Bridge is 64.5 metres above the Brisbane River, the equivalent of a 20 storey building.

The balanced cantilevers in the centre spans of the Bridge were cast in place using reusable formwork. The formwork was hung off a frame which enabled the builders to reposition it after the concrete had set in each section. This method of construction was the first of its kind.

Once completed, the Bridge boasted the longest cantilevered box girder main span in the world, measuring 260 metres point-to-point. It also had the highest load stressing cables of bridge approach spans in Australia, with 2200 tonnes of 12 millimetre stressing strand. Other feats at the time included bridge bearings with a maximum tested load of 4300 tonnes – the largest pot bearings made in Australia – and an erection truss weighing 650 tonnes.

ust 15 years after the first Gateway Bridge opened in 1986, it was clear Brisbane’s rapidly growing population would soon demand another river crossing. In 2005, the Gateway Upgrade Project began and by September 2006, the Leighton Abigroup Joint Venture was awarded the design, construct and maintain contract for the project.

Using innovative match casting methodology, design modelling and improved construction practices the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridge – South – the first twin bridge of its size in Australia, was delivered on budget and six months ahead of schedule in May 2010.

On 16 May 2010, the opening of the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridge – South was even more successful than the first bridge opening, with more than 175,000 people joining in the festivities and walking across the new bridge.

On that day both the new and original bridges were officially named to honour Sir Leo Hielscher, who had contributed 68 years of public service to the Queensland people.

When the Gateway Bridge officially opened to traffic, 12,500 vehicles travelled across it daily. By the end of its first year, this figure had grown to more than 17,000.

Today, more than 100,000 vehicles travel across the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges each day.

Artwork Comments

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