Historic bridge uncovered at Kingsford Smith Drive

Workers on the Kingsford Smith Drive upgrade project have made a fascinating discovery, uncovering what is believed to be one of the first bridges ever to be built in Queensland.

Infrastructure Chairman Amanda Cooper said the structure was uncovered during excavation work on what were previously the southern traffic lanes of Kingsford Smith Drive, between Nudgee Road and Theodore Street.

“The Quirk administration is getting on with the job of delivering this important upgrade for our city, and during works to prepare for a new major drainage line, workers have made a surprise discovery,” Cr Cooper said.

“Large timber beams stacked on top of each other have been uncovered beneath the surface of the road, which archaeological investigations have determined was a bridge structure from the 1860s.

“The discovery provides a glimpse into the evolution of the road and its fascinating past, after the Eagle Farm settlement was established in 1829 and when Hamilton Road – now known as Kingsford Smith Drive – was originally constructed between 1829 and 1830.

“The original road was built by convict women in the late 1820s, and was cut from rock along the riverside, providing a connection between the Moreton Bay convict settlement (now known as Brisbane’s CBD) the women’s prison at Eagle Farm, as well as farming land.

“With only horse-drawn buses and trams originally using the road, Kingsford Smith Drive has undergone several physical transformations over its 188 year history to meet the transport needs of the community at the time.

“Today, Kingsford Smith Drive is one of Brisbane’s busiest roads and is a gateway to the CBD from Brisbane Airport, the Brisbane Cruise Terminal and Gateway Motorway.”

Cr Cooper said Council was now working closely with the State Government to determine a management strategy for the preservation of the bridge.

“There is still so much to learn about this important piece of historic infrastructure which is believed to be one of the first bridges ever to be built in Queensland and along with the State Government, Council is continuing to work with archaeological experts to gain more knowledge about the bridge,” she said.

“A small section of the structure will be required to be removed to allow for the upgrade project to continue and it is Council’s intention for the piece to be preserved, potentially along the new corridor, while ensuring the remainder of the structure be covered and preserved in its original place.

“Meanwhile, we’ve now reached the halfway mark for works on the Kingsford Smith Drive upgrade, which will ensure a quicker and safer journey home for residents and visitors, with more travel options.

“The project will provide travel time savings of up to 30 per cent by 2031, and I thank the community for its continued patience as we deliver this vital project to tackle traffic congestion and create a vibrant urban corridor for our New World City.”