|Historical notes: ||The Anzac Bridge crosses Johnstons Bay, connecting Victoria Road and Glebe Island on the western side of the bay with the Pyrmont and Darling Harbour to the east.
Abattoirs were established at Glebe Island in 1860, following agitation by the City of Sydney Council to remove noxious industries from the centre of the city. Glebe Island and its abattoirs were first connected to the tip of Pyrmont with a wooden manual swing span bridge constructed in c1861, known as Blackbutts Bridge (Glebe Island was reclaimed and joined to the mainland in the late nineteenth century). Although originally a means of reaching the abattoirs, this bridge became an important part of the five bridges route from the centre of Sydney to the northern suburbs, and ultimately to Newcastle.
The original intention of the five bridges route, which was named because it encompassed the Fig Tree, Gladesville, Iron Cove, Glebe Island and Pyrmont Bridges, was to improve communications between the north shore and the city. Ultimately this route serviced more than the residents of the north shore, for by linking it with Victoria Road, which at the time ended at Gladesville, it provided an alternate route to and from Parramatta to Sydney.
In 1903, Blackbutts Bridge was replaced with a four-lane steel swing span bridge crossing Johnstons Bay between Pyrmont and Glebe Island, referred to as the Glebe Island Bridge. The Glebe Island Abattoirs were closed by the 1910s, partly under pressure from the Sydney Harbour Trust, which had gained control of the Sydney Harbour foreshore between Circular Quay and Rozelle in 1901, including Glebe Island.
The Glebe Island Bridge designed by Percy Allen (who was also responsible for the design of Pyrmont Bridge) served the Johnstons Bay crossing adequately until the early 1980s. Proposals to replace Glebe Island Bridge and to construct a Glebe Island Arterial were mooted in 1985 by the Department of Main Roads (DMR), who prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in that year. The EIS was approved in August 1985, following public display and feedback from local community and potential bridge users.
The Glebe Island Arterial was built in three stages. The first two stages of the arterial road between Harris Street in Ultimo to the Fish Markets on the eastern side of Blackwattle Bay were completed by 1987. Work on the third and final stage of the Glebe Island Arterial, including the new Glebe Island Bridge, commenced in 1989.
Initially the replacement Glebe Island Bridge was to be 'a concrete box girder bridge with three main spans over the waterway. Supporting the spans, two main piers would need to withstand the impact of 10,000 tonne ship travelling at 8 knots.' However, it was anticipated the foundation system required for these piers would necessitate the costly relocation of submarine telephone and electricity cables. Consequently, the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) revised its plans for the bridge, instead opting for a bridge with piers out of the water. The Bridge Branch of the RTA undertook the design for the new Glebe Island Bridge between July 1988 and March 1990; the RTA had been formed in January 1989, from the DMR and Department of Motor Transport (DMT). The bridge designer was Ken Wheeler (RTA, c1996, p 7).
The $69 million contract to build the new bridge was awarded to Baulderstone Hornibrook in March 1992, while other contracts were let for the construction of the approaches and associated roadways. Construction on the new Glebe Island Bridge commenced the following month. The total cost of the third stage of the Glebe Arterial came to $170 million, 'including investigation, design and construction' (RTA, c1996, p 7).
The two halves of the Anzac Bridge were joined on 24 July 1995. On 3 December 1995, the NSW Premier Bob Carr officially opened the new Glebe Island Bridge, ceremonially cutting the ribbon to open the bridge using the same scissors used by Jack Lang to officially open the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. Around 65,000 people took part in a community walk across the bridge to celebrate its opening (The Glebe, 6 December 1995, p 1).
The Anzac Bridge has three main cable-stayed spans. These spans are supported by 128 stay cables that fan out from the top of two 120 metre high towers at either side of the deck, each of which is founded on 56 reinforced concrete piles. The cable deck is 805 metres long and 32.2 metres wide, and accommodates six lanes of traffic as well as a pedestrian/bike lane along its northern side. On completion in 1995, the Anzac Bridge was the longest concrete cable-stayed bridge in Australia, at 345 metres in length (RTA, c1996, pp 4, 8, 27).
On the 11 November 1998 (Remembrance Day), the new Glebe Island Bridge was renamed Anzac Bridge by NSW Premier Bob Car and the State president of the Returned Services League (RSL), Rusty Priest. Lionel Charles Mance, a veteran of World War 1, was the guest of honour at the official ceremony (The Glebe, 18 October 1998, p 3).