News on Glebe Island Bridge

The 112-year-old swing bridge to Glebe Island has been permanently in the open position for the past 10 years. Should the bridge be reopened? What should it be used for? Have your say in our poll.

I’ve been working hard with the community to protect the bridge from being demolished for several years, pushing the Government not only to preserve the bridge but to reopen it for foot and bicycle traffic, with the opportunity to develop light rail.

Using the Glebe Island Bridge as a thoroughfare once again would be an important step in improving the transport connectivity of our area and helping people get where they need to go easily and quickly.

We understand that the Government is now actively developing options for the use of the bridge so we are stepping up our campaign.

I've written to the Minister for Transport on this important matter and will update you shortly. I’ll be calling on you for your support this year to help us drive a strong campaign to restore the Glebe Island Bridge to full use once again.

What do you think? Should the bridge be reopened? What should it be used for? Have your say in our poll.

Showing 28 reactions

  • Janthine Larsen
    commented 2017-04-28 17:27:46 +1000
    The problem with reopening the bridge would be for shipping and there would need to be provision for this. The Super Yachts could observe strict opening times (like with the Spit Bridge) but the heritage vessels of the Sydney Heritage Fleet – a not-for-profit organisation operated mainly by volunteers with no Government funding would suffer when they need to exit Rozelle Bay for their tours – essential for fund raising for maintaining this precious heritage asset for Sydney, NSW and indeed the whole of Australia. The Light Rail is great – maybe a spur from Rozelle Bay?
    Jan Larsen
  • Stephen Bradford
    commented 2017-04-28 17:19:30 +1000
    Open the bridge to the pedestrian public
  • Robert Moore
    commented 2017-04-13 17:44:09 +1000
    Example of new bridge across the harbour in Copenhagen. Slides open to let boats through. 180 m long, 50 m opening.
    more on WAN at
  • Martin Lawrence
    commented 2017-04-04 17:19:54 +1000
    This iconic bridge is so marvellous that two photos of it dominated the front cover of the Scientific American magazine in February 1904.
    On a more modern note, the NSW Govt. should appreciate that with a corridor over the Glebe Island Bridge for pedestrians, cyclists and light rail, the Govt. will make a lot of money. This would come from a significance increase in the value of the land being sold by the Govt. as part of the Bays Precinct redevelopment. With such links to the city, the value of new apartments would increase substantially, which means the land value (for the Govt.) would also substantially increase.
  • Deborah Snow
    commented 2017-03-29 12:50:10 +1100
    Re: Rachel’s “Rolling Bridge” suggestion for pedestrians and bicycles – v interesting – here’s the video clip:,_5x_speed).ogv
  • Graham Forsaith
    commented 2017-03-29 12:35:23 +1100
    I think Rachel has nailed it. Time for a public competition. Excellent.
    The prize can be a little name plaque on the newly restored bridge and dinner for two to the value of $500.00 paid for by the superyacht marina.
    McDonalds won’t do it for me.
  • Rachel Shepherd
    commented 2017-03-29 11:22:31 +1100

    Something like this could be integrated into the existing bridge with push button or remote control response. I hear 200 boats a day cross under the bridge. I live locally and bike around the coast often, and I cant recall seeing one. I presume they mostly cross in the morning en masse (eg the fishing fleet). It seems we mostly would use the bridge at different times.
  • Rachel Shepherd
    commented 2017-03-29 10:45:34 +1100
    Its bikes and pedestrians that want to cross, not cars and heavy vehicles.

    I think it should be restored at the marinas expense. They have no right to cripple a historic structure and in restoration we can all be satisfied. We can cross and it can be opened for the yachts.

    Another option is to build a pedestrian/bike bridge along side it. A pontoon bridge (openable) could be up and running within a year as a temporary measure. Any new pedestrian bridge could be an architectural feature for the area. Time for a new public competition.
  • glenn wall
    commented 2017-03-28 15:41:44 +1100
    Main problem with keeping it is that boat traffic in and out of Black Wattle bay would be impeded and with it removal the tide can flush the heavy metals out (The oysters have lead instead of pearl then there are those carper next to it who would scream blue murder if any noise dare come from it. They complain about ships docking as it is now!
  • glenn wall
    commented 2017-03-28 15:41:42 +1100
    Main problem with keeping it is that boat traffic in and out of Black Wattle bay would be impeded and with it removal the tide can flush the heavy metals out (The oysters have lead instead of pearl then there are those carper next to it who would scream blue murder if any noise dare come from it. They complain about ships docking as it is now!
  • glenn wall
    commented 2017-03-28 15:36:03 +1100
    I believe it should be moved to Motlake to replace the punt there now but it one can get it working again. GREAT!
  • Robert Moore
    commented 2017-03-28 14:20:32 +1100
    Restore it if possible, but leave it open to shipping, to save on operating costs, and build a fast opening light weight bridge next to it or over it. Many examples of such bridges in Holland, or The Harp in Dublin.
  • Nathan English
    commented 2017-03-28 13:19:58 +1100
    Why would you move it to Cockatoo Island? The cost of dismantling and transferring it alone would exceed restoration costs on its current site.
  • Deborah Snow
    commented 2017-03-28 11:25:20 +1100
    The other possibility is to transfer the old non-functioning swing bridge as a museum exhibit to Cockatoo island and replace it with a modern, automatic lifting bridge – much cheaper to operate and maintain. Any thoughts Graham Forsaith?
  • Deborah Snow
    commented 2017-03-28 11:19:28 +1100
    Very good idea posted by Graham Forsaith – super yacht owners should be asked for funds to repair or replace the bridge. Of course the only way to make them pay is to propose a compulsory (? tax deductible bridge) repair fee on top of their berthing fees. I think most residents would vote in favour of that. First step might be to get charitable status for bridge fund – possible?
  • maria Nugent
    commented 2017-03-28 08:39:25 +1100
    Brilliant!! Thanks Jamie for picking up the ball again on this valuable issue. A functioning GIB would do wonders for getting people off roads and on bikes and foot now. It will make a significant quality of life improvement to inner west commuters and be a recreation, fitness and tourist asset to boot! Let us know what help you need.
  • Carmelo Aquilina
    commented 2017-03-27 21:30:54 +1100
    something as rare and beautiful as this bridge deserves better – I have kayaked past it for the last 10 years and it keeps deteriorating year on year. Which other advanced city keeps mistreating its heritage as shabbily as this ?
  • Graham Forsaith
    commented 2017-03-27 16:42:47 +1100
    As an ex Boating Service Officer with NSW Maritime I cannot count the number of times I went through the Glebe Island Bridge in my patrol boat. The western channel was always blocked 24/7 because at times, the large bulbous bows of car ships used to jut into that channel and may have caused an obstruction to traffic on that side. I love the GIB.
    It is in a sorry state of repair as for many years it was used as a spare parts shop for the more glamourous Pyrmont Bridge. They are, all but, identical. Fancy allowing spares to be robbed from this bridge as it was quite often closed to sea traffic and could operate very well on its own. The buck has been passed many times and the current owners ( I think) are the RMS and they don’t want to spend the money keeping it working or indeed stopping it falling down. The central sandstone supported turntable bearings seem to be OK but the timber guide and protective timbers are very badly eaten away.
    So I suppose its like everything, who has the dollars to repair and maintain it ? The MV Claudia is no longer a user, Roads and Maritime boats and fishing boats go under and through when it’s swung shut and the few yachties who stay in Rozelle and Blackwattle Bay only need it on a few occasions each year. The working boats will need it open for crane barges and so on and for the heritage boats they will need it open for Lady Hopetoun and the steam tug Waratah. So that leaves the fleet of very expensive “Super Yachts”. I think I have just tumbled on the finance for it.
    Love ya GIB.
  • Wendy Chapman
    commented 2017-03-27 16:40:43 +1100
    As a yacht owner I said through this regularly. I am also a bicycle rider. I would love to see the bridge used for pedestrians and bicycles, with hourly openings for yachts. I definitely do not think it should be demolished.
  • William Holliday
    commented 2017-03-26 16:17:23 +1100
    Some proper ocean-going ships manage to navigate it safely. For 14 years until 2012, the MV Claudia came in with a load of gravel three times a week, and even docked, without any help from a tug. Apparently the (female) captain had a pilot’s licence for Sydney Harbour. Now all that gravel comes from the south coast quarry on trucks, clogging up our roads.
  • Nathan English
    commented 2017-03-26 14:17:38 +1100
    The Glebe Island Bridge is important historically and has been something all boats have had to navigate through for 112 years – nearly all succeed. It’s not dangerous, however those on super yachts who complain, may be… Even in one tragic case where a man was killed, the Coroner found this to be a case of malpractice on behalf of the boat’s captain. Before this, the SuperYacht Marina sadly tried to use the tragedy as an excuse to tear the bridge down. As a result of such negativity, Glebe Island Bridge remains an important piece of infrastructure unable to reach it’s full re-birth potential, so its currently going to waste. I have heard the difference in demolition costs compared to re-animation and restoration costs is about $8million. Almost no one could build a replacement bridge for less than that – so let’s invest in restoring it!
  • Robert Moore
    commented 2017-03-24 22:02:53 +1100
    Glad to see the State Govt is looking at keeping the bridge for foot and bicycle access. It is only a few minutes by bike into the city, but better connections are needed from Balmain, avoiding the Roberts St/Victoria Rd shared path. A flat path from Buchanan St on the Sydney Ports Land past the silos is possible. The Crescent also needs improving, particularly at the City West Link intersection, and the Lilyfield Rd footbridge was not designed for bicycles- need a new one or better still, a path following the railway line under Victoria Rd. Don’t forget to mention those to the Minister, Jamie.
  • Deborah Snow
    commented 2017-03-24 21:31:06 +1100
    I strongly agree – make the bridge usable to cyclists and pedestrians. Currently fixed open for the benefit of a handful of superyacht owners!
  • Laurent Wiseman
    commented 2017-03-24 19:29:36 +1100
    Closed permanently for 10 years ? I thought I ran across it at least once during a half marathon.
    If this reopened it would be a great outcome for crossing by door and bike to rozelle
  • William Holliday
    commented 2017-03-24 17:36:53 +1100
    The RMS wants it gone because they might have to maintain it and also because of access for the super yachts and the Claudia. BTW does the Claudia still sail in each week (without a tug) to unload gravel at the dock next to the old coal loader?
  • Michael Davis
    commented 2017-03-24 17:36:37 +1100
    Connections of all sorts, e.g. the Glebe Island Bridge, make it easier for each of us to move about freely in an urban environment. Pyrmont Bridge is still a great pedestrian thoroughfare into the city, as could be the Glebe Island Bridge. The Glebe Island Bridge should be open the vast majority of the time, primarily for walkers, joggers and bike riders. I like Jeremy’s idea of getting the bridge open for a day or weekend or even a week to allow people to experience how useful and enjoyable another pathway into the city and the fish markets would be.
  • Jeremy Lawrance
    commented 2017-03-24 16:49:24 +1100
    The Glebe Island Bridge is the only link that will make light rail to Balmain a viable proposition. It will also connect the White Bay Tech Park proposal directly with Darling Harbour and the city. Why not organise a day on which the Bridge can close which would allow interested parties to realise the potential of that great asset,
  • Susan Astor-Smith
    commented 2017-03-24 16:37:01 +1100
    We must save the Glebe Island Bridge from the developers’ hands. I used to walk across this bridge when I was a teenager to get home from the city. Let’s bring it back to life again!
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