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Fowler, Andrew
River Derwent, Tasmania - Bridgewater bridges - past and present
16th Engineering Heritage Australia Conference: Conserving Our Heritage - Make a Difference!
Engineers Australia, Barton, Australian Capital Territory, 2011, pp. 52-67

The current Bridgewater Bridge is located on the River Derwent just north of Hobart and carries the Midland Highway and the north-south rail line, which provide critical links to connect Hobart with Tasmania's northern cities and ports. Construction of this Hobart landmark was completed during the Second World War between 1939 and 1942, with the rail crossing being finished in 1946. The River Derwent was a major obstacle to the movement of people and freight in Tasmania's early days. The first solution to this challenge was the 1830s causeway - one of the largest convict-built engineering works ever undertaken in Australia. Previously, travellers crossed by ferry from adjacent Austin's Ferry to Herdsman's Cove. During the 19th century, the road crossing evolved to meet new transport requirements. A timber bridge was added in 1849, and with the advent of the railway, the first of several rail bridges was constructed over the river in 1874. The current Bridgewater Bridge demonstrates the innovation of the Tasmanian Public Works Department of the time, notably the work of its Chief Engineer, Alan (later Sir Alan) Knight, and Victorian consultant engineer, David Isaacs. The Bridgewater Bridge is the largest surviving lift span bridge in Australia and the only one of its kind in Tasmania. The bridge was refurbished in 2010 to repair structural defects and improve reliability of the lifting operation after almost 70 years of service. In the future a new bridge will be needed to cope with modern heavy vehicles and increasing traffic demand, so the recent project has extended the life of the Bridge until planning and construction of a new bridge is completed. This paper examines the history of crossings of the River Derwent at Bridgewater, heritage aspects of the current bridge and the remains of former structures at the site, the heritage considerations in the recent refurbishment and the inevitable future replacement of the existing bridge.

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