West Gate Bridge

bridge over the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia

The Westgate Bridge crosses the Yarra River, near Melbourne, Victoria. It is the third longest bridge in Australia.[1] The bridge's length, including the approaches is 2,582.6 m (8,473 ft).[1] Work began on the bridge on 22 April 1968, and the bridge was opened on 15 November 1978 at a cost of AU$202 million.[1] It was the scene of Australia's worst industrial accident when part of the bridge collapsed in October 1970, killing 35 men and injuring 18 others.[1]

West Gate Bridge
West Gate Bridge Melbourne.jpg
View of the bridge with a River Cruise Boat passing under
Coordinates37°49′46″S 144°53′53″E / 37.82944°S 144.89806°E / -37.82944; 144.89806Coordinates: 37°49′46″S 144°53′53″E / 37.82944°S 144.89806°E / -37.82944; 144.89806
Carries10 lanes (5 inbound, 5 outbound) of M1 (Queensland) for vehicles only
CrossesYarra River
LocaleMelbourne, Australia
Official nameWest Gate Bridge
Maintained byVicRoads
ID numberWGB
DesignCable-stayed box girder
Total length2,582.6 metres (8,473 ft)
WidthMaximum of 37.3 metres (122 ft)
Longest span336 metres (1,102 ft)
Clearance below58 metres (190 ft)
Opened15 November 1978
Daily traffic180,000


The bridge is a box girder and cable stayed bridge. The bridge deck is 58 m (190 ft) above the water level to allow ships to pass underneath.[1] The supporting pylons are 102 m (335 ft) high, and help support a span of 336 m (1,102 ft).[1] The bridge is 37.3 m (122 ft) wide and carries eight lanes of traffic.[1] About 160,000 vehicles travel over the bridge each day.[2]


Problems were first noticed on the West Gate Bridge in May 1970 when several steel girders did not fit into position by about 4.5 in (114 mm).[3] Engineers proposed putting ten concrete blocks, each weighing about 8 tons, onto the girders to bend them into the correct position. In September 1970 is was noticed that this had caused part of the girder to buckle.[3] On 15 October the engineers began removing the bolts holding the buckled girders in place. This would allow the steel to unbuckle and new steel could be put up to support the damaged section. At 11.50am the damaged section collapsed.[4] Workers both on and under the bridge were killed when the 2,000 ton section fell 45 m (148 ft) to the ground. The final death toll was 35 men killed and 18 injured.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 [www.aeol.com.au/databases/e-articles/200905_Westgate_Bridge.pdf "Westgate Bridge, Melbourne, Victoria"] Check |url= value (help) (PDF). Australian Engineering On Line. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
  2. "The West Gate Bridge | West Gate Bridge". westgatebridge.org. 2012 [last update]. Retrieved 24 March 2012. Check date values in: |year= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Events Leading Up to the Collapse". West Gate Bridge. 2012. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  4. "The Collapse". West Gate Bridge. 2012. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2012.