Separation Street Bridge

Road Overbridge
Line: Geelong and Warrnambool
Distance from Melbourne: 68.842 km
Track Diagram: View

The road bridge at Separation Street was one of two over bridges provided with the opening of the Geelong Line. (the other was at Church Street) On the opening day it was the site of a fatal accident, with Henry Walters (superintendent of locomotives for the Geelong and Melbourne Railway Company) mortally injured after making contact with the bridge while on board the first Melbourne bound train.

The original bridge was built between 1857 and 1858 by the Geelong and Melbourne Railway Company, by their engineer Edward Snell. This bridge was replaced with an iron bridge completed in 1875, with the iron girders produced by Geelong's Humble and Company's foundry.

In 1959 the Grain Loop was constructed underneath the main Geelong - Melbourne line, and the North Geelong A to C link was relocated north, resulting in an additional road bridge being provided to the north of the existing road bridge to span the new tracks. In 1961/62 the Country Roads Board had extended the dual carriageways of the Princes Highway south to the bridge, but it was not until 1969 that they were extended south, the current Melbourne-bound bridge opened in 1969, and in 1970 the second bridge was opened for Geelong-bound traffic.

The new overpass comprised of four bridges on two carriageways each of 3 lanes, and spanned two underpass roads and approximately ten sets of railway tracks. The new bridges are square to the road centreline at the Melbourne end, and vary up to a skew angle of approximately 60° at the Geelong end. The pier positions were rigidly controlled by the position of the railway tracks, leading to spans varying from 19.5 metres (64 feet) to 32.6 metres (107 feet) long.

At the Geelong end of the bridges, the highway is on a 137 metre (450 feet) radius curve, and passes over the Bent Street underpass. To maintain a reasonable appearance for traffic approaching the bridge, each outer girder in this end span is to be shaped to follow the circular curve in plan, and thus keep the deck overhang constant. These curved girders would be unstable when supported at their ends only, and so to make transport and erection easier, the curved girders were required to be fastened to the respective adjacent straight girders at the fabrication stage, by having the crossframes between the girders welded on in the shop. The weights of the assemblies are approximately 8.1 to 16.3 tonnes.

Each bridge has a narrow and unprotected footpath along the outer edge for pedestrians, and is located on a 'S' curve. The edge balustrades are all metal, and have been damaged multiple times by cars running out of control. In 2008 a drunk driver ran through the balustrade of the Melbourne bound bridge with their car landing onto the railway tracks below. In 2011 another motorist drove their car off the Geelong bound bridge, again landing on the tracks below.

In 2008 the southern footpath was closed, with concrete barriers placed along the footpath in an effort to prevent any more cars falling off the bridge onto the railway line. This was followed in 2010 by $3.2 million in funding for the replacement of the Melbourne bound steel balustrades by a concrete wall, and in 2020 by $4.2 million in funding to upgrade the Geelong bound lanes.


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