In 1908, the Metropolitan Tramways Trust (MTT) expanded its network into western Adelaide. The expansion included a bridge across the River Torrens, between Holland Street Thebarton and Manton Street Hindmarsh. The MTT general manager was William Goodman.
The bridge is an early example of a steel reinforced concrete bridge designed by John Monash. The City of Charles Sturt is the current asset owner of the bridge. The bridge is the second oldest reinforced concrete girder bridge in SA, and after having many owners during its life no maintenance was conducted to the bridge. In 2008, the bridge had reached the end of its useful life and was closed due to the poor condition of the structure. After many opinions that the bridge could not be repaired, the City of Charles Sturt sought a strategy to repair the bridge. After extensive negotiations between the City of Charles Sturt and West Torrens City Council, the City of Charles Sturt negotiated to take the asset over for the next 80 years with the vision to repair the heritage listed bridge.
The City of Charles Sturt decided to restore the State Heritage. The restoration included removing spalled concrete, rusted reinforcement and bitumen, fixing new reinforcement, pouring low strength cement, wrapping beams in fibre blankets, applying a waterproof membrane and a paint sealant; and rip-rap. The bridge now meets bridge and concrete standards. Construction was applied as a staged approach with an initial trial repair on a small section of bridge completed prior to undertaking full repairs of the bridge.
The restoration is sympathetic to the heritage of the bridge, and included new handrails, symbolic tram tracks, decorative LED lights, and public lighting. The bridge was reopened in September 2014.
Completed bridge – Photo courtesy of John Woodside Consulting
Preserving state heritage
The completed bridge is a brilliant result for the council, local community and for preserving the heritage of our state. The outcome of the bridge is an outstanding achievement by the Council, Council Management and the Engineering team formed at the time, who came together to find a strategy on how the bridge could be repaired and then applied their problem solving skills together with Engineering technical skills to achieve what we see today. The Council and Management took great faith in relying on the technical knowledge of the team and entrusting them that the right outcome of the project would be achieved.
At the time, I was a young Engineer with a few years’ experience watching and learning from the outcomes of the project. Three years on, the project and the project team (some of whom have now moved on to new things while others still assist with bridge repairs) have left a world of knowledge for our bridge assets and how to approach repairs, maintenance and ensuring they remain serviceable for our community.