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John Oxley Library

40th anniversary - official opening of Brisbane's Riverside Expressway

By Myles Sinnamon, Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland | 22 July 2016

On July 22, 1976, Brisbane's Riverside Expressway was officially opened by the Governor of Queensland, Sir Colin Hannah in front of approximately 300 invited guests and a crowd of onlookers. The ceremony marked the completion of the final stage of the project (1.4 kms from Alice Street to the William Jolly Bridge). The expressway first started construction in 1968 and stretches 2.7 kms from Coronation Drive to Kangaroo Point.  The expressway was proposed by American consulting engineering firm, Wilbur Smith and Associates in 1965 as part of a Brisbane Transportation Study. The purpose of the expressway was to allow traffic to bypass the narrow streets of Brisbane's central business district and relieve congestion. The entire project cost $37 million (over $220 million today).

Damage on the Riverside Expressway Brisbane caused by the 1974 flood.

Damage on the Riverside Expressway Brisbane caused by the 1974 flood. Neg 191174, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

The Australian newspaper reported that the opening ceremony was delayed for a few minutes while the last touches of white and aqua paint were applied to the pylons and crash rails at the Turbot Street overpass. The newspaper also noted that a group of protesters were on the adjacent riverbank:

"...onlookers were provided with some comic relief as the Main Roads truck was brought to an adjacent lane to block out signs of protest held by a handful of conservationists on the riverbank. When the truck moved in front of the placards, the demonstrators carried them to a new position. The truck followed and the demonstrators returned to their original positions. The game went on throughout the ceremony." (The Australian, 23 July 1976, p.3)

From SLQ's ephemera collection

Function programme for the official opening of the Riverside Expressway, 22 July 1976. State Library of Queensland ephemera collection

State Library holds several items associated with the Riverside Expressway, including an official invitation to the 1976 opening ceremony, a pamphlet produced by the Main Roads Department entitled Brisbane Freeway and Expressway Progress July 1976 and a small leaflet, again issued by the Main Road Department, advising motorists on the road rules when entering the newly opened expressway. These three items are part of our Transport - Road and miscellaneous ephemera collection.

There are also a number of digitised photographs of the Riverside Expressway available through our One Search catalogue.

Riverside Expressway closed to traffic as the Brisbane River climbs higher, 2011 flood.

Riverside Expressway closed to traffic as the Brisbane River climbs higher, 2011 flood. Image 27803-0001-0189, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Myles Sinnamon - Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland


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