Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Crossing the Hawkesbury by Road

View of F3 and Peats Ferry Bridges
In the days of the Second World War, alongside the work on the second railway bridge, the construction of the Peats Ferry Road Bridge was taking place a little further to the west. This was too was a major engineering feat.

The Hawkesbury River had been bridged at North Richmond in 1860, but there  no road  across the Brisbane Water. In the early 1830's, George Peat, an early settler, had marked a line-of-road from Sydney to Brisbane Water and established a ferry crossing at Mooney Mooney Point.

In 1848 Governor Fitzroy had approved Peats Ferry Road  as the new North Road*. Punts were used to ferry travellers across the Hawkesbury River and Mooney Mooney Creek. These ceased in 1889 with the opening of the rail bridge. Peats Ferry Road north of the river was not maintained.

By 1930 the section of Peats Ferry Road from Hornsby to the Hawkesbury river had been reconstructed and renamed the Pacific Highway. Two vehicular ferries, the George Peat and the Frances Peat operated on the highway from Kangaroo Point to Mooney Mooney.

But an increasing flow of traffic made these arrangements inadequate and a decision was made to build a bridge.

Construction of the Peats Ferry Bridge by the Balgue Construction Company was commenced in September 1838. It was officially opened in May 1945, being the first direct road link between Sydney and Newcastle.

With the construction of the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway (F3), a new six lane bridge adjacent to the 1945 bridge was built and opened to traffic in October 1973. (Photo at top). The original  bridge is still in service carrying traffic on the old Pacific Highway route and as a backup to the Freeway.  It also provides access to the township of Brooklyn.

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*In its Government Contracts and Contractors Database, History Services NSW has some 20 records of contracts being awarded by the NSW government in connection with the Peats Ferry Road.

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