Swan Street Bridge spans across the Yarra River running through the suburbs of Richmond, Cremorne and Burnley in Melbourne, Australia. The bridge is being upgraded by VicRoads to ease congestion.

Construction of the bridge upgrade began in March 2017 and is expected to be completed by mid-2018.

Comprising the construction of a new shared use path on the city side of the bridge and an outbound lane for drivers, major components of the upgrade became operational in December 2017.

Purpose of Swan Street bridge upgrade

Opened in 1952 with two lanes in each direction, Swan Street Bridge witnesses approximately 30,000 vehicles, including fuel tankers and over-height trucks commuting a day and hundreds of cyclists passing through an hour.

“Major components of the upgrade became operational in December 2017.”

The bridge is considered to be the gateway to Melbourne’s sport and entertainment precinct as it connects Royal Botanic Gardens, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Shrine of Remembrance with Rod Laver Arena, AAMI Park, Hisense Arena and the MCG.

An extra eastbound lane on the bridge towards Richmond/Punt Rd was proposed as an exclusive right-turn lane for drivers approaching the CityLink toll road on Batman Ave was not being used properly.

The bridge also has narrow and unprotected footpaths, which are incapable of handling crowds. It lacks a dedicated bicycle lane in spite of Olympic Boulevard, offering separate lanes for cyclists in each direction.

The upgrade is intended to address the traffic congestion during peak hours in eastbound direction and provide better access to the sports and entertainment precinct.

Details of the bridge upgrade

The upgrade project includes the addition of a new traffic lane in the eastbound direction and an outbound lane along Olympic Boulevard.

Two new 4m-wide separate pedestrian and bike paths are being added on both sides of the bridge. A new pedestrian crossing is also provided on the Alexandra Avenue side of the bridge.

Construction details

The project involves the addition of 76 architectural steel fins to the bridge giving it a wave-like look, which represents a rower’s oars cutting through the water.

The upgrade also includes the installation of nighttime lighting, and the creation of artwork and architectural structures along the barriers that divide cyclists and walkers from traffic.

Ramps will be installed on either side of the bridge to facilitate people with limited mobility.

Feature lighting will also be added to reduce the light spill on to the river and neighboring parklands.

Benefits of the upgrade

The Swan Street bridge upgrade will reduce traffic congestion and travel times, while improving safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

The upgrade will save approximately five minutes of journey time for more than 30,000 vehicles during peak periods by avoiding the congestion caused by lane switching.

Contractors involved

The contract for the architectural design of the bridge was awarded to BKK Architects in September 2016.

In December 2016, Seymour Whyte Constructions received a A$25m design-build contract for the upgrade.