Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges

Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges
GatewayBridge800.jpg
Coordinates27°26′40″S 153°06′01″E / 27°26′40″S 153°06′01″E / 
Gateway Bridge

The Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges are a side-by-side pair of road bridges on the Gateway Motorway (M1), which skirts the eastern suburbs of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The western bridge carries traffic to the north and the eastern bridge carries traffic to the south. They are the most eastern crossing of the Brisbane River, the closest to Moreton Bay, crossing at the Quarries Reach, between Eagle Farm and Murarrie. The original bridge (formerly named the Gateway Bridge) was opened on 11 January 1986 and cost A$92 million to build.[1][2] The duplicate bridge was opened in May 2010, and cost $350 million.[1]

On 16 May 2010 the Queensland Government renamed the Gateway Bridge and its duplicate the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges.[3][4] An opinion poll conducted by Brisbane's Channel Nine News, showed 97% of people were against the decision to rename the bridge and most people still call it the Gateway Bridge.[5]

A public open day for the duplicate bridge was held on 16 May and the new bridge was opened to traffic on 22 May 2010, six months ahead of schedule. Following the opening, the old bridge was refurbished, three vehicle lanes at a time. From November 2010 the two bridges carry 12 lanes of vehicle traffic (six in each direction).[6][7] The associated upgrade of the Gateway Motorway south of the bridge was completed in May 2010 to coincide with the new bridge opening.[8]

The bridge is tolled using the Linkt (formerly go via) electronic system and will remain so until 2041.[9] The toll booths were removed and free flow tolling began in July 2009.[10] The booth removal saw an immediate drop in road crashes due to the reduction in queuing and weaving at the toll booths on the southern approach.[10]

History

Gateway Bridge Construction
Gateway Bridge Construction

Construction on the Gateway Bridge commenced on 5 June 1980. The construction of the bridge started before the design was completed, to fast track its construction. It was officially commissioned on 11 January 1986. On this day 200,000 people crossed the bridge by foot as part of the opening activities.[2]

In 1986 the bridge carried an average of 12,500 vehicles per day.[11] In 2001 the bridge was crossed by 27 million vehicles (approximately 73,975 vehicles per day).[12] In early 2010 the single bridge was carrying an average of 100,000 vehicles per day.[11]

The annual Bridge to Brisbane fun run has begun from the southern entrance to the bridge for the past decade.

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