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West Gate Bridge facts for kids

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West Gate Bridge
West Gate Bridge Melbourne.jpg
Design Box girder and cable stay
Total length 2,582.6 metres (8,473.1 ft)
Width 250
Longest span 336 metres (1,102.4 ft)
Clearance below 58 metres (190.3 ft)
Collapsed 15 October, 1970

The Westgate Bridge crosses the Yarra River, near Melbourne, Victoria. It is the third longest bridge in Australia. The bridge's length, including the approaches is 2,582.6 m (8,473 ft). 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. 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.


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. The supporting pylons are 102 m (335 ft) high, and help support a span of 336 m (1,102 ft). The bridge is 37.3 m (122 ft) wide and carries eight lanes of traffic. About 160,000 vehicles travel over the bridge each day.


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). 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. 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. 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.

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