The Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges are a pair of road bridges on the Gateway Motorway (M1), which skirts the eastern suburbs of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. They are the most eastern crossing of the Brisbane River, the closest to Moreton Bay, crossing at the Quarries Reach, between Eagle Farm and Murarrie. The original bridge (formerly named the Gateway Bridge) cost A$140 million to build. The duplicate bridge was opened in May 2010.

On 16 May 2010 the Queensland Government renamed the Gateway Bridge and its duplicate the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges. An opinion poll conducted by Brisbane's Channel Nine News, showed 97% of people are against the decision to rename the bridge.

A public open day for the duplicate bridge was held on the 16th May and the new bridge was opened to traffic on the 22nd May 2010, six months ahead of schedule. Following the opening, the old bridge is being refurbished, three lanes at a time. From November 2010 the two bridges will carry 12 lanes of traffic (six in either direction). The associated upgrade of the Gateway Motorway south of the bridge will be completed in May 2010 to coincide with the new bridge opening.

The bridge is tolled using the Go via electronic system and will remain so until 2041. The toll booths were removed and free flow tolling began in July 2009. The booth removal saw an immediate drop in road crashes due to the reduction in queuing and weaving at the toll booths on the southern approach.


Construction on the Gateway Bridge commenced on 5 June 1980. It was officially commissioned on 11 January 1986. On this day 200,000 people crossed the bridge by foot as part of the opening activities. About five months after the bridge was opened Prince Phillip officially opened the bridge.

The construction of the bridge started before the design was completed, to fast track its construction. In 1986 the bridge carried an average of 12,500 vehicles per day. In 2001 the bridge was crossed by 27 million vehicles. In early 2010 the single bridge was carrying an average of 100 000 vehicles per day. The annual Bridge to Brisbane has begun from the southern entrance to the bridge for the past decade.


On completion of construction, the (260 m/853 ft) main span of the Gateway Bridge was a world record for a prestressed concrete free cantilever bridge. It held this record for over 15 years. The box girder is still the largest prestressed concrete, single box in the world, measuring 15 m (49 ft) deep at the pier, with a box width of 12 m (39 ft) and an overall deck width of the 6 lanes of 22 m (72 ft).

The bridge owes its distinctive shape to air traffic requirements restricting its height to under 80 metres (260 ft) above sea level (all features of the bridge including light poles) coupled with shipping needs requiring a navigational clearance of 55 metres (180 ft).

The bridge has six lanes (three in each direction). The bridge was financed by funds borrowed by the Queensland Government, and as a result, users of the bridge pay a toll on the southern side of the Brisbane River. The Bridge is operated and maintained by Queensland Motorways, which is a Queensland Government-owned enterprise.

The total length is 1,627 metres (5,337 ft). This is divided into a southern approach of 376 metres (1,234 ft), a northern approach of 731 metres (2,398 ft) and the three central spans of 520 metres (1,706 ft). The main span is 260 metres (853 ft) long by 64.5 metres (212 ft) high, which is equivalent to a 20-storey building. A total of 150,000 tonnes (165,000 short tons) of concrete was used to construct the bridge.

The original design did not include a safety fence to prevent suicide attempts and base jumping. Three-metre high safety fences attached to the top of the concrete traffic barrier were later installed to prevent these incidents occurring. Anti-climbing screens are part of the second bridge's security features.


In 2005, a major upgrade of the Gateway Motorway was announced.Leighton Holdings and joint venture partner AbiGroup won the contract to upgrade the bridge. The A$1.88 billion Gateway Upgrade Project includes the duplication of the Gateway Bridge and upgrades to 20 km (12 mi) of the Gateway Motorway from Mt Gravatt-Capalaba Road in the south to Nudgee Road in the north. The bridge duplication is the largest bridge and road development in Queensland's history.

To the south, the upgrade includes widening 12 km (7 mi) of the Gateway Motorway from 4 to 6 lanes. To the north, it involves the construction of the 7 km (4 mi) Gateway Motorway deviation, an entirely new six-lane motorway between the Gateway Bridge and Nudgee Road. The deviation runs east of the original motorway through Brisbane Airport Corporation land and provides a second means of access to the Brisbane Airport. The new bridge provides a bicycle path unlike the first crossing.


The Gateway Upgrade Project is being progressively delivered with each section of the project being opened to traffic as soon as it is completed. The Wynnum Road upgrade was completed on 13 July 2007 and 2 additional southbound lanes between the Port of Brisbane Motorway and Wynnum Road completed in late 2007.

Four of six lanes of the new Gateway Motorway deviation were opened in July 2009. All works south of the river are expected to be complete by the end of 2009. The final cement pour linking the sides of the new bridge was made in late October 2009. A total of 748 concrete segments, which are supported by 17 piers, were placed for the new bridge.

The duplicate bridge was completed in May 2010 along with the remaining lanes of the Gateway Motorway deviation. The existing bridge will be refurbished by November 2010.


2 photos

Building Activity

  • removed a media
    about 5 years ago via