Construction facts | Brisbane City Council

Construction facts

""Brisbane City Council awarded John Holland a contract to design, construct and maintain the $55.5 million cable-stay bridge and associated works. Construction on the bridge started in March 2005 and finished in December 2006. This project was a cooperative risk-share agreement between principal contractors, John Holland and Council.

The bridge:

  • provides improved access to the University of Queensland's (UQ) St Lucia campus
  • encourages cycling and walking and other green modes of transport
  • reduces congestion on St Lucia streets
  • reduces the need for UQ bound traffic to go through the city and along Coronation Drive

Bridge features

The Eleanor Schonell Bridge spans 390 metres across the Brisbane River with two twin-column 70 metre high towers supporting it. The bridge deck is:

  • 20 metres wide, 1.5 metres deep and 185 metres long
  • about 11 metres above the Brisbane River's high tide level

The harp-profiled cable-stayed structure was chosen for its visual appeal, slender bridge deck, generous spans to accommodate river traffic and because of its minimal impact to river-bank mangroves. The bridge has been designed to withstand impacts such as earthquakes, flooding and special event pedestrian-loading.

The Eleanor Schonell Bridge has several environmental and cultural features, including:

  • bio-retention ponds that capture and filter water runoff from the bridge deck
  • interactive touch-screens featuring bridge information
  • a solar roof at the Dutton Park Kiss and Ride, used to power digital signage and lighting on the bridge
  • poetry by Brisbane-born writers Samuel Wagan Watson and Luke Beesley, permanently etched into the railings and concrete of the pedestrian pathway

Construction timeline

Time period Activity
March 2005 A temporary load-out jetty was established on the Dutton Park side of the river for loading of construction material onto barges.
April 2005 The Aquila barge arrived on site. This barge played a vital role in the construction of the bridge deck. Earthworks began for the new busway through Dutton Park.
May 2005 Construction started on the tower foundations on the Dutton Park side of the river. Works on the UQ side took place over the same period, two weeks behind the Dutton Park side. Each of the tower foundations were buried more than 30 metres into the rock under the riverbed to ensure the stability of the bridge.
August 2005 The first stage of tower construction involved constructing the towers from the pile cap up to the eventual bridge deck level, a height of 15 metres.
January 2006 With the base of the towers completed, the deck at the towers was the first stage of bridge deck construction. Each section of deck frame was floated on a barge from the load-out jetty.
February - August 2006 Following completion of the first stage of the deck, construction of the towers continued above the bridge deck level.
August 2006 With the towers completed, the remaining bridge deck was constructed. This was done in stages starting at each pier and included:
  • pre-assembling the deck steel framework
  • splicing the framework into the completed deck sections
  • install cables from tower to deck
  • install pre-cast deck panels
  • stressing the cables to support the deck 

On 21 August 2006, the two sides of the bridge deck met in the middle of the river.

October - December 2006 Final stressing involved using hydraulic cable pull to make adjustments to the tension in each of the cable stays. In early November, two layers of asphalt were laid on the busway. Work continued on bridge lighting, solar canopies and handrails.
17 December 2006 The Eleanor Schonell Bridge was officially opened and named. Around 5,000 people were crossed the bridge at the opening, raising money for the Cerebral Palsy League and other local charities.


30 August 2018