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Auto collectors attend old Murray Bridge reopening
Graham Edwards reflects on a unique day in the history of the city and its namesake bridge.
This post was contributed by Graham Edwards.
Members of a local car club have gained a unique perspective on the old Murray Bridge at its recent reopening to two-way traffic.
The Auto Collectors Club of Murray Bridge was extremely proud to be invited to attend the long-awaited reopening of the newly refurbished road bridge across the mighty River Murray.
With traffic restrictions having been in place for the past 16 months, it was be a real relief for residents and businesses, including many ACCMB members who live on the east side and who use the bridge most days of the week.
Twenty vehicles, from 1925 to 2003, assembled with their owners at the riverfront car park at Finlayson Reserve in warm conditions at 9am on Sunday, September 24, with various emergency and McMahon Construction vehicles, along with their individual owners and drivers.
Club members had time to mix with all people present and were kept busy answering questions about their vehicles prior to move-off time, 10am.
With all vehicles having negotiated the Bridgeport hill and readily awaiting the anticipated bridge crossing, some ACCMB members alighted from their vehicles to take photos of the procession about to take place.
As the vehicles moved off, many employees and contractors of McMahon’s gathered around the western end of the bridge pylons, and as club members drove onto the bridge, some couldn’t help thinking back to early photos of the bridge in 1875, when many workers were seen sitting atop the first pylon archway, many metres above the roadway in an era when occupational health and safety rules didn’t exist; or when the bridge was last painted in 1990, and the amount of grey paint overspray that drifted across Murray Bridge, with vehicles parked near the bridge needing, in some cases, entire resprays, kept the two major crash repairers in the city busy for months and months refurbishing some 200 vehicles.
Fortunately, modern technology in 2022-23 allowed the bridge to be wrapped in cloth and filtered exhaust fans to be used to extract the overspray from the air, thus avoiding a repeat of 1990.
An emergency vehicle’s water cannon spray-christened the bridge, sirens and horns were sounded, and the general public clapped and cheered as the procession of vehicles drove off the eastern end of the bridge to the music of the Murray Bridge Community Concert Band on their way to the parking area at the RSL clubrooms.
With stomachs starting to rumble, it was time to line up in the queue for some of Mobilong Rotary Club’s tasty cooked barbecue sausages and onion, supplied and cooked by their conscientious band of volunteers.
Inside the RSL, many families packed the clubrooms out to take advantage of all things free and celebrate the opening of the 148-year-old bridge following its $46 million makeover.
It would be hoped that the estimated crowd of 1000 people would have appreciated the huge effort of all who helped in any way, putting together such a memorable occasion in the life and times of the Rural City of Murray Bridge.
Thanks from all ACCMB members for the opportunity to be part of this celebration.
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