History of the Spit Bridge

This is a view of the Spit Bridge which carries traffic over Middle Harbour. It’s a beautiful view from this spot but this is one of the ugliest traffic bottlenecks in Sydney.

During the 1800s the Northern Beaches were visited mostly for recreation due to the difficulties in getting there. At the time a punt was in operation of which we have previously posted here.

As the area grew, demand for better transport did too. A bridge was first proposed during the 1870s but it wasn’t until 1924 that the first wooden bridge was built. It was funded via a loan to the Manly Council (Mosman Council did not contribute), with tolls used to repay the loan.

Demand was so strong that the loan was paid off much faster than expected with tolls collected suggesting a larger bridge could have been considered. It also meant that traffic delays were reported only 2 years later, with queues for the bridge as long as when the punt was operating.

The bridge was also not built for trams meaning passengers would alight on one side, walk across the bridge and board another tram toward their destination.

Plans for a new bridge came in 1939, however economic difficulties meant it wasn’t until 1949 that agreement was reached to build the new four lane lift bridge. The new bridge was expected for completion in 1954, but a shortage of resources meant it took 4 years longer, opening in November 1958.

Next year the bridge will be 60 years old with traffic congestion continuing to choke. The NSW Government has twice promised to widen the bridge in 2002 and 2007, but these were not seen through primarily due to cost. Recently plans for a tunnel between Neutral Bay and Seaforth have been flagged. But costs are large so we’ll see if this is yet another false dawn for Northern Beaches commuters.

Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.

Sources:
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/northern-beaches/engineering-research-work-for-a-middle-harbour-tunnel-set-to-begin-after-17m-pledge-in-state-budget/news-story/2336b3c0399fc22c3fcae005dd04ba4f
http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/spit_bridge
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spit_Bridge

Spit Bridge courtesy State Records NSW c1932
Spit Bridge courtesy State Records NSW c1932

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