Mandurah’s first Traffic Bridge, which locals now affectionately refer to as simply “The Old Bridge”; was first built in 1894 to allow road access to the South, after the first established Ferry line, operated by Sarah Littleton and owned by Thomas Peel, came into disrepair. The Ferry was in use from 1843, and experienced problems, sinking several times or becoming swamped and, after some changing of ownership, by 1850 the Ferry was unused and awaiting repair indefinitely. This deemed transport for those seeking to cross into Mandurah from Old Coast Road impractical, with many travellers forced to travel inland through Pinjarra.
A tender brought by Matthew Price in December of 1893 saw the beginning stages of the construction of Mandurah’s first traffic bridge over the estuary. The bridge was to be built from local Jarrah, Karri and with piles cut from bush out at Pinjarra. The bridge opened in May of 1894.
The township of Mandurah subsequently grew, and modifications to cater for increased traffic were made in 1897-1898, including the removal of large piles to allow large sea vessels to pass through. Around this time, a proposal was made to construct a fishing bridge under the East end of the Old Bridge – all completed at a cost of sixty five pounds.
Over the next six decades, the bridge lasted through storms, floods and weathering, as well as damage from drifting boats and white ants. All the while, traffic steadily increased over the bridge. By 1953, a plan was made to develop a replacement bridge, the new design focusing on reducing the possibility of damage with concrete piles instead of wood. The construction would take 3 years, bringing completion into January of 1953.
The next major upgrade was not conducted until 1996, and was to last the ever booming township of Mandurah another 20 years. Maintenance was performed to the bridge, with weighing limits enforced between 2002 and 2006, before the City of Mandurah was forced to consider a re-development to cope with Mandurah’s population boom and massively increased traffic conditions.
This lands us in 2016, where construction on the Old Bridge Redevelopment Project is underway. In January of 2016, Transport minister Dean Nalder announced that Georgiou Group would begin work to replace Mandurah’s iconic and historical Old Traffic Bridge, after 2 years of planning and proposals between the City and the construction company.
Completion is due in December of 2017. Whilst basic design elements are to remain the same as the current bridge, the new development has sought to incorporate a more modern and contemporary design, incorporating local Aboriginal artwork and interpretation; as well as a greater capacity for weight with 2 traffic lanes either side as well as pedestrian and cyclist access.
The town has estimated up to 200 job openings would be created in one of Mandurah’s largest ever construction projects.
At the time of writing this article, the Eastern Foreshore and Boardwalk are closed in areas, and the Pinjarra Road intersection remains under roadworks with decreased access. Piling works have begun, whereby huge concrete tubes are literally hammered into the ground to form the bridge’s support structure. Here at Bassett-Scarfe Realty we can hear and feel the force of these works during the day, as 129 piles are being installed, causing loud hammering and – literally – the shaking of walls and ground.
We are very lucky to have front row seats at our office on Mandurah Terrace, as the Old Bridge is altered and the new bridge constructed, to witness what will become a historical change for the Mandurah Community. Follow our webpage and Facebook page as we post updated photos and information on the progress of Mandurah Old Bridge Development, 2016 – 2017. For more information, follow the links: