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Frequently Asked Questions

Click the bookmarks below for frequently asked questions on the following categories:


Q: Why were the bridges built?

A: The Port River Expressway bridges were built to provide direct access across the Port River for heavy vehicles and freight trains travelling to Outer Harbor, alleviating the current congestion problems on South Road, Cormack Road and Grand Junction Road, and through the Port Adelaide Centre. In addition, the new alignment has removed freight trains from the residential areas of Rosewater, Ethelton and Glanville and removed several rail level crossings which previously caused delays to motorists.

The bridges have increased efficiencies in the wider transport system achieving significant road and rail user savings in travel time and costs and facilitating a reduction in vehicle emissions. The improved freight access has also assisted the Port Adelaide area to realise its potential in terms of tourism, recreation and urban development by reducing the impact of heavy road transport traffic on the amenity of Port Adelaide.

Q: Will Road Trains continue to use Grand Junction Road and Causeway Road once the road bridge is opened?

A: The primary Road Train route to Outer Harbor is via Stage 1 of the Port River Expressway and the road bridge (Stage 2). However, Grand Junction Road and Causeway Road remains a Road Train route for existing businesses in the area, east of Eastern Parade and as an alternative route if the road bridge is open for marine use or restricted due to maintenance work.

Q: How many vehicles are using Stage 1 of the Port River Expressway and how is this affecting neighbouring roads?

A: In excess of 22,000 vehicles are using Stage 1 each day. Since being opened in mid 2005, Stage 1 has created a major shift in traffic flows from neighbouring arterial road networks. Traffic volumes on Grand Junction Road (immediately west of South Road) and Cormack Road have decreased by approximately 9 000 and 5 000 vehicles per day respectively.

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Q: Why have the bridges been built as opening structures?

A: The bridges have been designed and constructed as opening structures to ensure that the heritage, tourism and cultural potential of the Inner Harbour is maximised. They are 10 metres above Mean Sea Level which will enable the majority of river traffic, including tourist boats, to pass under the bridges when in the closed position. Vessels up to eight metres high will be able to pass under through unrestricted at almost all tides. This approach ensures flexibility for future development of the Inner Harbour.

The freight industry and port users will benefit from fewer openings from a higher structure and a direct and shorter route to Outer Harbor, with no tolls levied on bridge users.

Q: Are the bridges tolled?

A: No, the bridges are not tolled. Having no tolls will maximise vehicular use of the road bridge, reduce heavy vehicle traffic in the Port Adelaide Centre and will ensure that costs to industry and the community in the Port Adelaide area do not increase.

Q: What is the weight limit for the road bridge?

A: The road bridge is designed to meet designated loadings in Australia’s Bridge Design Code to cater for the maximum expected loads that will travel on this route or anywhere else in the state. It can be used by all legal vehicles and will be gazetted as a Road Train and B-Double route.

The road bridge is designed to be an over-dimensional route and cater for vehicles with dimensions seven metres wide and 7.5 metres high.

Q: What impact will wind have on the bridges when the opening spans are in their upright position?

A: As with other similar structures such as high-rise buildings, the road and rail bridges are designed to comply with wind loadings as specified in the relevant Australian Standards and design codes.

In addition to this, the impact of wind on the operation of the road and rail bridges is being managed through several measures. The operating machinery of the opening bridges is designed for maximum speeds of 145 km/h and an anemometer (device to measure wind speed and direction) will be mounted on the bridges to constantly measure wind direction and speed. These measurements will be relayed to the Traffic Management Centre at Norwood which will control the bridges' opening regime. The bridges will not be opened during periods of extreme wind in order to protect the operating mechanism.

Q: Have similar bridges been built in the past, and if so where?

A: The Auckland Creek Bascule Bridge in Gladstone, Queensland was the last opening bridge to be built in Australia and is similar in design to the Port River Expressway road bridge. It is a bascule opening road bridge with a 23 metre clear span and approximately six to seven metres clearance for marine vessels, similar to the Port River Expressway road bridge which incorporates a 30 metre clear span and ten metres clearance to Mean Sea Level for passage of marine vessels. The Auckland Creek Bascule Bridge was constructed in the early 1990s.

A twin-leaf bascule opening rail and road bridge was built in Valencia, Spain in 2001. The opening span is 98 metres, which makes it the largest railway opening bridge in the world, with a 74 metre navigation channel between fendering. The bridge was designed for 50 km/h winds during its open and closed positions and has back up systems to address failures in the hydraulic drives or power supply.

Note: the term bascule refers to the 'see-saw' action of the lifting mechanism that allows each leaf to lift upwards to allow ships through.

More Information about the Bridges 9.46 kb

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Q: Which company built the bridges?

A: Abigroup Contractors Pty Ltd was awarded the contract to design, construct and maintain the road and rail bridges across the Port River in early July 2005.

Abigroup has experience in designing, constructing and maintaining transport infrastructure projects with similar complexities as the Port River Expressway road and rail bridges. For example, the Yelgun to Chinderah - Pacific Highway project in New South Wales involved the construction of a 28 kilometre carriageway, incorporating 11 over bridges and 39 freeway bridges. The Craigieburn Bypass project in Victoria is another example of a project with similar complexities to the Port River Expressway project.Q: How long were the bridge piles and how far were they driven into the river? A: The piles were 30 metres in length. Approximately 23 metres of the piles were driven into the Hindmarsh Clay below the river bed level. The friction created between the pile and the clay provided the necessary capacity for the piles, meaning they do not need to be driven down to a solid bedrock layer.

After installation, the piles were tested to ensure the required design capacity was reached and the top 15 metres were filled with reinforced concrete.

Q: How was local industry involved in the construction?

A: Local Port Adelaide businesses were engaged wherever possible throughout all aspects of the Port River Expressway project.

Products and services were sourced from local Port Adelaide companies before approaching state and interstate companies.

Local and South Australian companies engaged in the construction of the Port River Expressway Bridges included Port Adelaide based Samaras, engaged to fabricate the steel components for the opening section of the bridges; McKechnie Foundry, engaged to fabricate the trunnion hubs, pre-cast fascia and pre-cast panels.  South Australian based companies include York Civil who are completing the concrete civil works for the bascule foundations; Bianco, who are responsible for fabricating the highway T-Roff beams (pre-cast concrete bridge beams); GK Structures, who are constructing the elevated concrete structures; and Mitcon who are constructing the road bascule.

The majority of the sub-contractors involved in roadworks for the project are also Port Adelaide or South Australian based businesses.

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Bridge openings

Q: How many times will the bridges open?

A: The bridge opening regime is outlined below:

Monday - Friday: 6am and 7pm
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: 10am, 3pm, and 6pm
(plus a 10pm opening during daylight savings)

Opening times will not exceed 15 minutes and will depend on the number of vessels (marine traffic) passing under the bridges.

When all marine traffic cannot pass through during the allocated 15 minutes, the bridges will close to allow road traffic to clear and then open for a further ten minutes.

It is important to note that the bridges will only open at the allocated times if vessels are waiting and have contacted the bridge operator.

The bridges will be remotely operated by the Norwood Traffic Management Centre. Any openings outside of those listed will be determined in consultation with rail and road freight industry groups as part of a special events process.

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Traffic Management

Q: What happens with traffic once the road bridge is open (closed to traffic)?

A: Road, cyclist and pedestrian traffic will be stopped on the bridge with signals and boom gates similar to those at level crossings. Comprehensive video surveillance is undertaken of all modes of traffic, both on the bridge and on the Port River, to ensure it is safe for the bridges to open.

Variable message signs and/or changeable message signs are located along the major routes between Salisbury Highway - South Road Connector and the LeFevre Peninsula to advise motorists of the status of the road bridge.

Q: How were construction impacts in the river managed?

A: An Environmental Management Plan was developed, to ensure environmental impacts were minimised during construction.

Key environmental issues considered in the Environmental Management Plan include noise and vibration, land contamination, soil erosion, dust control, disposal of stormwater, resource use and recycling.

A bubble curtain was installed in the river to protect the Port River dolphins during piling works. In addition, careful operational procedures/checks have been put in place to control the spread of river sediment during construction.

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Q: Were the Port River dolphins affected by the pile driving and construction activity in the Inner Harbour?

A: Local dolphin experts were engaged to survey the movements and behaviour of the Port River dolphins for six months before and during bridge construction. The survey found that the total number of dolphin sightings during the construction phase increased from sightings before construction. Please note: the months in which the pre-bridge construction data was collected did not directly correlate to the months in which bridge construction commenced. Therefore seasonal variations associated with differing environmental variables may have affected the results of the survey.

Best management practices have also been implemented to minimise the potential impact on the Port River dolphins during construction of the road and rail bridges. The comprehensive environmental management systems and controls implemented during construction, particularly the installation of a bubble curtain in the river surrounding the work zone, have proven to be effective in reducing noise and vibration - which presented the greatest risk to the dolphins.

For further information please see the "Environmental Considerations" page

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Victoria Road

Q: Will the service road at the southern end of Victoria Road impact on Emergency Services access to this area?

A: No. The department and the contractor, Abigroup, have undertaken extensive consultation with local Emergency Services representatives to advise of the changes in access as a result of the service road.

Emergency Services representatives have advised that the implementation of the service road will not impact on access to the area bound by Swiggs Street, Fletcher Road and Semaphore Road as comprehensive communications regarding the changes will be undertaken internally and routes altered accordingly.

In addition, the rail level crossing at Semaphore Road, Nelson Street and Victoria Road is being removed which will improve travel times through this area.

Q: Why can't a road link be provided into the service road?

A: It would be extremely unsafe to have a road link from the Victoria Road service road into Semaphore Road for several reasons. Primarily, creating a left hand turn so close to the intersection of Semaphore Road and Nelson Street would be unsafe and could result in rear-end collisions as motorists heading east and indicating left into the service road could be mistaken for turning left into Nelson Street.

Additionally, constructing a road link into the service road also creates the potential for motorists to use the service road as a 'rat-run' which is certainly not desirable for the department or local residents and businesses.

Q: Why not open up the southern end of Heath Street to improve access?

A: The southern section of Heath Street was turned into a cul-de-sac approximately 15 years ago as the 'five-way intersection' did not operate effectively and was extremely unsafe. The street will not be re-opened based on its previous poor safety record.

Q: What is being done to the junction of Victoria Road and Heath Street given that Swiggs Street, Martin Street and Walker Street are to become cul-de-sacs?

A: The right turn lane from Victoria Road into Heath Street is being doubled in length in order to cater for the expected increase in this right-turn movement. This design change is based on extensive traffic modelling and community demand.

Q: Are the traffic signals at the intersection of Semaphore Road, Nelson Street and Elder Road co-ordinated with the intersection of the expressway and Nelson Street?

A: Yes. The signalling of these two intersections has been coordinated to ensure a smooth flow of traffic through this area.

Q: How will stormwater in the area be managed, particularly in the instance of heavy rainfall and king tides?

A: A number of detention basins have been incorporated into the project site in order to manage stormwater during construction and following project completion. In addition to the primary basin which will be located on the south-western corner of Nelson Street and Semaphore Road, three basins will be constructed within the project site. Two of these will be located east of the Port River and another will be constructed on the western side of the river adjacent to Adelaide Brighton Cement land.

The capacity of the main detention basin located opposite Victoria Road has been designed to cater for a 1 in 5 year recurrence interval design storm and to ensure that there is an overflow path for the 1 in 100 year event.

Q: What will happen to the Rosewater Loop?

A: The Rosewater Loop rail line will remain in place but will no longer be used by freight trains following the completion of the Port River Expressway Rail Bridge in early 2008. Discussions have taken place between ARTC, TransAdelaide, the National Railway Museum and the City of Port Adelaide Enfield regarding the future use of this line from their perspective and it has been decided that the track will be kept in place for at least twelve months following the opening of the expressway to allow for full consideration of all issues. The use of the line will be reviewed after this time.

The National Railway Museum has also expressed an interest in having access to the line.

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Further information

Q: Where can I get more information about the project?

A: For further information on the project, please contact the project information line: 1300 130 653.

Alternatively, email the Port River project team:

Write to:

Port River Expressway Project Team
Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
GPO Box 1533
Adelaide SA 5001

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