By Janet Wahlquist, Bulletin 1/2023, March 2023
Despite lots of noise from the State Government that it intends to renovate Glebe Island Bridge for a cycleway and pedestrian route between Pyrmont and White Bay, there has been no progress on these promises, and it continues to fall down. No actual plans exist for its renovation, and it appears nothing will happen until and unless major developments take place at the present fish market site and at White Bay. This completely ignores the reality that the pedestrian / cycleway is needed now for residents and others who are already here.
The concern is that the bridge will deteriorate to such a level that the cost of renovation will make it not worth repairing. The pictures show its condition well after it was closed when calls were being made for its repurposing, approximately 8 years ago, and recently. It is now deteriorating at such a rapid rate that markers have had to be placed around the middle struts so water users are not endangered by falling pieces.
The Bridge was opened in 1903 and is known as an Allen deck truss bridge with an electrically powered swing section. It’s a pair to the Pyrmont Bridge which has been restored. This spans Darling Harbour and is well used by pedestrians and cyclists.
The bridge closed in 1995 when the Anzac Bridge opened. Originally it opened and closed for special events such as marathons. When there was talk of its demolition a campaign to save it was pursued and in 2013 it was heritage listed. There have been calls since it was listed for it to be used as a pedestrian walkway and cycleway.
During the pandemic it became increasingly evident that more walking and cycling routes were needed. Clearly, the bridge could be an important link in an attractive walk around Blackwattle Bay and Rozelle Bay In 2020 on the 25th anniversary of the bridge’s decommissioning the Glebe Society organised a rally to call for its repair and repurpose. At that time we were told that plans were being prepared for its reuse but they have not eventuated. The Glebe Society’s concern is that restoration of the bridge is dependent on the building of the large-scale developments planned for the bays, possibly with developer’s money (an unreliable source) and that there is no government commitment to restore the bridge.
We call for the NSW politicians seeking election to make a commitment to have the government fund the renovation of the bridge as a priority. (Editor’s note: See the article ‘State Election March 25’ in this issue of the Bulletin)