Story Bridge

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Story Bridge
Coordinates 27°27′49″S153°02′09″E / 27.4635°S 153.03579°E / -27.4635; 153.03579 Coordinates: 27°27′49″S153°02′09″E / 27.4635°S 153.03579°E / -27.4635; 153.03579
CarriesMotor vehicles and pedestrians
Crosses Brisbane River
Locale Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Official nameStory Bridge
DesignSteel cantilever
Total length777 metres (2,549 ft)
Width24 metres (79 ft)
Height74 metres (243 ft)
Longest span282 metres (925 ft)
Clearance below 30.4 metres (100 ft) at mid-span
Opened6 July 1940

The Story Bridge is a heritage-listed steel cantilever bridge spanning the Brisbane River that carries vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic between the northern and the southern suburbs of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It is the longest cantilever bridge in Australia.

Cantilever bridge bridge built using cantilevers

A cantilever bridge is a bridge built using cantilevers, structures that project horizontally into space, supported on only one end. For small footbridges, the cantilevers may be simple beams; however, large cantilever bridges designed to handle road or rail traffic use trusses built from structural steel, or box girders built from prestressed concrete. The steel truss cantilever bridge was a major engineering breakthrough when first put into practice, as it can span distances of over 1,500 feet (460 m), and can be more easily constructed at difficult crossings by virtue of using little or no falsework.

Brisbane River river in Australia

The Brisbane River is the longest river in South East Queensland, Australia, and flows through the city of Brisbane, before emptying into Moreton Bay. John Oxley, the first European to explore the river, named it after the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Thomas Brisbane in 1823. The penal colony of Moreton Bay later adopted the same name, eventually becoming the present city of Brisbane.

Queensland North-east state of Australia

Queensland is the second-largest and third-most populous state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Situated in the north-east of the country, it is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. To its north is the Torres Strait, with Papua New Guinea located less than 200 km across it from the mainland. The state is the world's sixth-largest sub-national entity, with an area of 1,852,642 square kilometres (715,309 sq mi).


The road across the bridge is named Bradfield Highway. The bridge connects Fortitude Valley to Kangaroo Point. The Story Bridge opened in 1940 and was tolled until 1947. It is named after prominent public servant John Douglas Story.

Kangaroo Point, Queensland Suburb of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Kangaroo Point is a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, located directly east across the Brisbane River from the Brisbane central business district.

John Douglas Story Australian public servant

John Douglas Story.


Given the early settlement of Kangaroo Point, there is a long history of residents wanting a bridge between the Brisbane CBD and Kangaroo Point. Even while the first Victoria Bridge was being constructed between North Brisbane and South Brisbane in 1865, several hundred people were petitioning for a second bridge to be built from the Customs House to Kangaroo Point. [1] In 1888, a meeting was held in the Brisbane Town Hall to demand a bridge connecting either George Street, Albert Street or Edward Street via the City Botanic Gardens with any loss of the land from the gardens to be potentially compensated by removing Government House. [2]

Victoria Bridge, Brisbane bridge in Australia

The Victoria Bridge is a vehicular and pedestrian bridge over the Brisbane River. The current bridge, opened in 1969, is the third permanent crossing erected at this location. It is shared by vehicular traffic, pedestrians and cyclists.

Customs House, Brisbane

Customs House is a heritage-listed customs house at 427 Queen Street, Brisbane CBD, City of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by Charles H McLay and built from 1886 to 1889 at a cost of ₤38,346 by John Petrie & Son. It was originally used for the collection of customs duty and was opened in 1889, when Queensland was a British colony, replacing the original Customs House located at Petrie Bight. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 7 February 2005.

George Street, Brisbane street in Brisbane

George Street is a main street located in the Brisbane CBD in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. A major thoroughfare, George Street connects to the Queensland University of Technology as well as the state Botanical Gardens, to the commercial centre of Brisbane, Queen Street and Queen Street Mall.

Panorama showing the location of the Story Bridge (left) relative to the Brisbane CBD. Brisbane City Skyline.jpg
Panorama showing the location of the Story Bridge (left) relative to the Brisbane CBD.


A bridge downstream of the Victoria Bridge was part of a larger plan, devised by Professor Roger Hawken of the University of Queensland in the 1920s, for a series of bridges over the Brisbane River to alleviate congestion on Victoria Bridge and to divert traffic away from the Brisbane central business district. The William Jolly Bridge was the first of the Hawken Plan bridges to be constructed. Lack of funds precluded the construction of the downstream bridge at that time. Initially plans called for a transporter bridge further downstream near New Farm.

Roger Hawken Prof Hawken

Roger William Hercules Hawken, an Australian engineer, was the first lecturer in Civil Engineering, and then a professor, at the University of Queensland.

University of Queensland university in Australia

The University of Queensland (UQ) is a public research university primarily located in Queensland's capital city, Brisbane, Australia. Founded in 1909 by the state parliament, UQ is Australia's fifth oldest university and is colloquially known as a sandstone university. UQ is considered to be one of Australia's leading universities, and is ranked as the 48th most reputable university in the world. The University of Queensland is a founding member of online higher education consortium edX, Australia's research-intensive Group of Eight, and the global Universitas 21 network.

Brisbane central business district Suburb of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

The Brisbane central business district (CBD), officially gazetted as the suburb of Brisbane City and colloquially referred to as 'the city', is the heart of the state capital of Queensland, Australia. It is located on a point on the northern bank of the Brisbane River. The triangular shaped area is bounded by the Brisbane River to the east, south and west. The point, known at its tip as Gardens Point, slopes upward to the north-west where the city is bounded by parkland and the inner city suburb of Spring Hill to the north. The CBD is bounded to the north-east by the suburb of Fortitude Valley. To the west the CBD is bounded by Petrie Terrace, which in 2010 was reinstated as a suburb.

In 1926 Kangaroo Point was recommended by the Brisbane City Council's Cross River Commission. [3] Subsequently the bridge was constructed as a public works program during the Great Depression. The cost was to be no more than ₤1.6 million. [4]

Public works

Public works are a broad category of infrastructure projects, financed and constructed by the government, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater community. They include public buildings, transport infrastructure, public spaces, public services, and other, usually long-term, physical assets and facilities. Though often interchangeable with public infrastructure and public capital, public works does not necessarily carry an economic component, thereby being a broader term.

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

Plans for the "Brisbane River Bridge", circa 1934 Plans for the Brisbane River Bridge (later named Story Bridge), circa 1934.jpg
Plans for the "Brisbane River Bridge", circa 1934


The bridge under construction. StateLibQld 1 115280 Brisbane River and Story Bridge, 1939.jpg
The bridge under construction.

Before the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 the Government of Queensland asked John Bradfield to design a new bridge in Brisbane.

Sydney Harbour Bridge bridge across Sydney Harbour in Australia

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a heritage-listed steel through arch bridge across Sydney Harbour that carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney central business district (CBD) and the North Shore. The dramatic view of the bridge, the harbour, and the nearby Sydney Opera House is an iconic image of Sydney, and Australia itself. The bridge is nicknamed "The Coathanger" because of its arch-based design.

Government of Queensland state government of Queensland, Australia

The Government of Queensland, also referred to as the Queensland Government, is the Australian state democratic administrative authority of Queensland. The Government of Queensland, a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, was formed in 1859 as prescribed in its Constitution, as amended from time to time. Since the Federation of Australia in 1901, Queensland has been a state of the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Constitution of Australia regulates its relationship with the Commonwealth. Under the Australian Constitution, Queensland ceded legislative and judicial supremacy to the Commonwealth, but retained powers in all matters not in conflict with the Commonwealth. Key state government offices are located at 1 William Street in the Brisbane central business district.

John Bradfield (engineer) Australian engineer

Dr. John Jacob "Job" Crew Bradfield was a prominent Australian engineer who is best known for his work overseeing the design and building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Queensland Government appointed John Bradfield on 15 December 1933 as consulting engineer to the Bureau of Industry who were in charge of the construction of the bridge. In June 1934 Bradfield's recommendation of a steel cantilever bridge was approved. The design for the bridge was based heavily on that of the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal, completed in 1930. [3] On 30 April 1935 a consortium of two Queensland companies, Evans Deakin and Hornibrook Constructions, won the tender with a bid of ₤1,150,000. [5] [6]

Governor of Queensland Sir Leslie Orme Wilson and consulting engineer Bradfield inspecting the bridge, 7 July 1938 Inspection of the Story Bridge.png
Governor of Queensland Sir Leslie Orme Wilson and consulting engineer Bradfield inspecting the bridge, 7 July 1938

Construction on the bridge began on 24 May 1935, [5] with the first sod being turned by the then Premier of Queensland, William Forgan Smith. Components for the bridge were fabricated in a purpose-built factory at Rocklea. Work sometimes continued 24 hours per day. [4] The bridge has only one pier on the northern bank but two piers on the lower southern bank, one to bear the weight (the main pier) and, further to the south, one to prevent the bridge from twisting (the anchor pier). There was no need for an anchor pier on the northern bank as the bridge was anchored into schist cliff face. The primary challenge in constructing the bridge was the southern foundations that went 40 metres (130 ft) below ground level. It was not possible to excavate to that level as water from the level would rapidly seep in. So a pneumatic caisson technique had to be used. As men were working under pressures of up to 4 times normal air pressure, a decompression period of almost 2 hours was needed at the end of each shift to avoid the bends. An on-site air lock hospital successfully treated the 65 cases of the bends that occurred. [6] On 28 October 1939 the gap between the two sides was closed. [5] A concrete decking was then laid, covered by a Trinidad pitch topping. The bridge was painted and sodium lighting was installed. The bridge approaches were also prepared. [6]

Three men died during the construction of the bridge. [7] On 22 November 1937, Hans James Zimmerman slipped and fell 75 feet (23 m) to the ground. [8] On 7 February 1939, Alfred William Jackson fell from the bridge into the river. Although pulled from the water alive, he died 4 hours later in hospital without regaining consciousness. [9] On 6 December 1939, Arthur McKay (Max) Wharton was hit by a piece of equipment on a nerve that made him faint, falling from the bridge to the water; 18 months earlier Wharton had been hailed as a hero for saving another worker from falling from the bridge. [10]


Until it was completed the bridge was known as the Jubilee Bridge in honour of King George V. [3] It was opened on 6 July 1940 by Sir Leslie Orme Wilson, Governor of Queensland and named after John Douglas Story, a senior and influential public servant who had advocated strongly for the bridge's construction. [5]


Time-lapse of Brisbane and Story Bridge
Toll booth, 1941 Queensland State Archives 4053 Toll booth and office Brisbane 20 February 1941.png
Toll booth, 1941

The bridge carries an average of 97,000 vehicles each day. [11] The Story Bridge carries three lanes of traffic in either direction as well as a shared pedestrian and cycle way flanking each side. The road on the bridge is called the Bradfield Highway. It is not to be confused with the Bradfield Highway that spans the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Initially a toll of sixpence (5 cents) was charged to use the bridge, [4] with toll booths constructed at the southern end of the Bradfield Highway. The toll was removed in 1947. [12] Between 1952 and 1969 trolley-buses operated by the Brisbane City Council used the bridge.

Following completion of the bridge, an expressway was constructed on the southern side of the bridge (opened 18 May 1970), [13] and a tunnel/loop was constructed at Kemp Place on the northern side (completed 10 July 1972). [14]


Riverfestival at Story Bridge Brisbane Riverfire 2009 Bridge.jpg
Riverfestival at Story Bridge
Story Bridge with the Brisbane skyline in the background. Brisbane CBD and Brisbane River views from Bowen Terrace 01.jpg
Story Bridge with the Brisbane skyline in the background.

Resurfacing works were undertaken in 1994. [15]

The Story Bridge was closed to traffic from midnight of Friday 3 January 2014 until 5.30 a.m. Monday, 6 January 2014, for essential maintenance work of resurfacing all six lanes. [16] [17]

Closure for maintenance occurred again from 9 p.m. Friday 27 April 2018 until 5 a.m. Monday 30 April 2018. [18]

Role in contemporary Brisbane

The Story Bridge features prominently in the annual Riverfire display and is illuminated at night. In 1990 road traffic was halted so pedestrians could celebrate the 50th anniversary of the bridge's construction. [4] The bridge was again closed to road traffic on 5 July 2015 to celebrate the 75th anniversary. The celebration attracted almost 75,000 visitors to the bridge who enjoyed food, drink and entertainment as they walked across lanes usually reserved for vehicles. [19]

Bridge climbs began in 2005 and have become a popular tourist attraction. [20]


Similar to many large bridges such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Brisbane's Story Bridge has become notorious as a suicide hotspot. [21] Following two high-profile murder-suicides from the bridge in 2011 and 2012, Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk announced plans to install free telephones linked to suicide prevention hotlines. [21] On 6 February 2013, Quirk announced plans to install a three-metre-high safety barrier. Overall the plan cost about $8.4 million and was completed in December 2015. [22]

Heritage listing

The bridge was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register in 1992. [23]

In 1988, the bridge received a Historic Engineering Marker from Engineers Australia. [24]

In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Story Bridge was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a "structure and engineering feat". [25]

See also

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  2. "Brisbane River Bridge". The Telegraph . Brisbane. 3 November 1888. p. 2. Retrieved 6 August 2015 via National Library of Australia.
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  8. "FIRST STORY BRIDGE FATALITY". Queensland Times . LXXVIII (15, 915). 23 November 1937. p. 7 (DAILY.). Retrieved 3 August 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "CARPENTER FALLS FROM STORY BRIDGE". The Central Queensland Herald . 10 (477). 9 February 1939. p. 41. Retrieved 3 August 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "100 ft. Death Fall From New Bridge". The Telegraph . Brisbane. 6 December 1939. p. 1 (CITY FINAL LAST MINUTE NEWS). Retrieved 3 August 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  11. Kim Stephens & Cameron Atfield (2 January 2014). "Heatwave could see Brisbane reach 40 degrees". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
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  13. Leighton Holdings Newsletter Archived 30 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine ., June 1970
  14. Leighton Holdings Newsletter Archived 30 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine ., August 1972
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  18. Hyam, Rebecca (27 April 2018). "Story Bridge water damage prompts two-day closure for repairs to southern approach". ABC News . Archived from the original on 29 April 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
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  20. Hutchinson, Amy (6 July 2010). "Seventy years on, Story Bridge still going strong". Brisbane Times . Retrieved 5 July 2018.
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  22. "Safety barriers for Story Bridge". Archived from the original on 7 February 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
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