Old Murray Bridge upgrades 70% complete
Progress on the Old Murray Bridge refurbishment project is going well, and the project is now around 70% finished.
The Old Murray Bridge can trigger local people’s pride and memories, as it’s full of public and personal history, so how its makeover is coming along has meaning for many people.
A man who stopped near the bridge to look at the major works in progress expressed that he was seeing history in the making.
The bridge’s appearance is iconic, as seen by the numerous Murray Bridge businesses that include it in their logos.
The bridge was opened in 1879 as a road bridge and was converted for mixed road/rail use soon after.
Since the railway bridge was built nearby in 1925, the original bridge has been used only for road traffic.
In World War II, the two bridges were the only ones to span the River Murray, so soldiers guarded the bridges and had orders to blow them up if the enemy approached.
A Department for Infrastructure and Transport spokesperson told Murray Bridge News about the latest updates on the major renovations to this heritage-listed structure and “critical part of the local road network”.
“The major refurbishment will protect the heritage of this important structure for many years to come, safeguarding this asset for motorists, pedestrians and all locals who love the Old Murray Bridge,” the DIT spokesperson said.
Although the recent River Murray floods affected the project, it is nevertheless around 70% complete.
“The recent River Murray flooding event had a major impact on the project, resulting in a modified construction methodology and the implementation of additional safety controls,” the DIT spokesperson said.
“While the impacts of the flooding event are still being fully assessed, the Old Murray Bridge is still on track to have two-way traffic reinstated by late 2023.”
Once the bridge is complete, driving conditions on the bridge will essentially be the same as before the refurbishment, but several improvements will improve road users’ and pedestrians’ experience, including the following:
repainting of the bridge
repointing, cleaning and general repairs to the stone abutments and rebuilding of the northern parapets (low stone barriers designed to protect the edge of the bridge) to their original height
new LED lighting
the installation of corrosion protection to prevent degradation of the iron on the river piers
rebuilding of Pier 26 to maintain the structural integrity of the bridge
a new concrete approach path on the southern side, along with new approach fencing, which will incorporate Aboriginal artwork
interpretive signage to recognise the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal history of the area
minor structural repairs and upgrades to the structure
relocation of utility services that currently obstruct pedestrian footpaths.
The DIT spokesperson said that although the changed traffic conditions during the refurbishment can be “an inconvenience for road users”, feedback from the public in relation to the project has been “overwhelmingly positive”.
The current traffic conditions are designed to limit disruption to the public while ensuring their safety.
“The traffic control methods being used minimise the impacts on road users wherever possible: This traffic control detects the volume of vehicles and can be adjusted to suit morning and afternoon peaks,” the DIT spokesperson said.
“Any temporary full bridge closures which have been required as part of the project have been undertaken outside of peak periods, or at night, where possible.”
The refurbishment has also provided employment to South Australian employees, with many from the Murray Bridge area.
“The project is supporting approximately 70 full-time equivalent jobs over the life of the construction period,” said the DIT spokesperson.
“All labour hours have been undertaken by South Australian-based employees, with 18% undertaken by Aboriginal employees, 16% by employees based in the Murray Bridge area and 3% by people who were previously unemployed.”
The DIT asks the public to observe speed limits, lane restrictions and traffic controllers when travelling through the area and to continue to plan ahead, allow extra travel time and take extra care when workers are on site.
For information about 10-minute and scheduled bridge closures and for more information about the Old Murray Bridge Refurbishment Project, visit dit.sa.gov.au.
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In addition to its historic legacy, the old bridge is an essential connection for Eastside residents with the town centre. It is the only means for cyclists, pedestrians and those using motorised disability aids to cross the river, as the Swanport Bridge is far too dangerous for these people to use. It is a worthwhile initiative that the pipes that carry utilities are being relocated from inside the pedestrian walkways, as until now they have significantly restricted thoroughfare.