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Old Murray Bridge reopens to two-way traffic
Hundreds have turned out to celebrate the end of a $46 million, 16-month construction project.
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Sixteen months of disruption have come to an end with the reopening of the old Murray Bridge to two-way traffic.
Hundreds came to a celebration marking the end of the $46 million repair job on Sunday.
They cheered as construction workers, emergency services personnel, historic vehicles and even four pedal prix cars paraded from west to east, led by celebrity traffic controller Aaron Mann, who offered one of his signature waves.
They wandered along the roadway in the final hours before it was reopened to traffic, some of them – including Perrin Kuchel, more than 70 years a local – for the first time in their lives.
Finally they converged on Murray Bridge RSL for a Rotary sausage sizzle, fairy floss, ice cream and general good cheer.
The duty of cutting a ribbon to make things official fell to Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Clare Scriven, Murray Bridge Mayor Wayne Thorley and Department for Infrastructure and Transport project manager Dariusz Fanok.
Ms Scriven said the project had taken:
150,000 hours of work
15,000 litres of paint
250 tonnes of scaffolding
The demolition and construction of two piers
One kilometre of new kerbing
Most impressively, all that work had gone on with 11,000 vehicles per day continuing to roll over the bridge, and with the biggest River Murray flood in 50 years submerging the land beneath it.
Mr Thorley credited everyone who had worked on the bridge, “our icon”, for doing a tremendous job.
“We’ve seen a vast improvement in what the old girl looks like,” he said.
“She was starting to show her age.”
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The works would ensure the bridge’s continued use for another 30 years, he noted.
But it wasn’t too soon to start thinking about decisions due to be made in the 2050s.
“I certainly like to think we’ll be getting the welder out, and the cement mixer, and giving it another 30 years again,” he said.
“Even though DIT owns the bridge, it’s our bridge.
“We value it and want it to be here for an extremely long time.”
The old Murray Bridge became the first to span the River Murray when it was completed in 1879, and carried the Adelaide to Melbourne railway line until the opening of the nearby rail bridge in 1925.
The bridge has since been restored four times now: in 1914, 1961, 1990 and over the 16 months since last May.