Bridge Length: 488m
Construction Dates: 1960 - 1964
Designer: G Maunsell & Partners
The Gladesville Bridge, opened in 1964 after four years of construction along with Fig Tree Bridge and Tarban Creek Bridge, to form part of the North Western Freeway. This new structurally innovative design replaced the original bridge which was the road bridge over the main navigable harbour channel and the first permanent regular harbour crossing. A two-lane bridge including tram tracks, by the 1950s it had become a major bottleneck, with traffic jams and lines of cars queued up to cross being commonplace.
The ground-breaking new design utilised hollow precast segments that were lifted into place from barges floating on the river below. Once in place, a synthetic hydraulic fluid was pumped into the separating gaskets allowing the arch to the left clear of the supporting formwork and stand of its own accord. After further adjustments liquid concrete replaced the hydraulic fluid in the gaskets forming a permanent structural arch.
Along the way this state-of-the-art bridge broke many records: it was the first 1000ft span concrete bridge; it had the honour of being the longest concrete arch bridge in the world for almost 20yrs and it was the first major concrete arch bridge to be built suing precast segments.
Ironically, the industrial facilities this section of the river serviced closed down during the construction of the bridge. Subsequently, this record breaking feat of engineering that allowed for safe navigation of extremely large vessels was never to fully utilised.