Story Bridge to be repainted for the first time in $80m project

Painters are about to begin a five-year project to completely repaint Brisbane’s 79-year-old Story Bridge for the first time since it opened.

Work will begin after this year's Riverfire, at the culmination of the Brisbane Festival.

Brisbane City Council will next week call tenders for one of the city’s biggest-ever paint jobs, repainting the kilometre-long bridge, including the iconic span over the Brisbane River.

Though its paintwork has been “touched up” several times, it will be the first time the Story Bridge has been repainted entirely since it opened in 1940.

The intention is not to change the Story Bridge’s steely-grey colour.

The idea is to scrape and blast off the old paint and then completely repaint the bridge the same colour.

It will cost about $80 million and take about 33,000 litres of paint, which is equivalent to the weight of 14 African elephants.

Lord mayor Graham Quirk said Brisbane councillors had decided the bridge “deserved an overhaul”.

“There will never be another Story Bridge and, with it now approaching its 80th year, it is vital that we undertake works so it can continue to help people get home quicker and safer,” Cr Quirk said.

The Story Bridge, built between May 1935 and July 1940, originally cost £1,492,000 to build, which would be about $149,738,521 in 2019.

If Brisbane had to build it again, Cr Quirk said, it would cost closer to $1 billion.

A plan laying out the basic requirements for the big paint job will go before Brisbane City Council on Tuesday.

Story Bridge facts

  • It was designed and built as a work-generating project during the Great Depression (1929-1935)

  • The designer was engineer John Bradfield and the road over the bridge is called the Bradfield Highway in his honour. He also designed Sydney’s Circular Quay train station.

  • All the bridge components were built at a purpose-built bridge factory at Rocklea

  • It now carries 97,000 vehicles each day between Monday and Friday and about 30 million vehicles a year

  • It is 22 storeys high

  • It took five years to build

  • Three men died during construction. Two fell from the bridge, while a third man was hit by falling equipment

  • The bridge used 12,000 tonnes of steel

  • 400 people worked on the construction

  • During construction, workers were placed in an airlock 40 metres below ground level to build the footings

  • It was a toll bridge until 1947. The toll was a sixpence