December 17, 2006
The Eleanor Schonell Bridge was formally opened almost two months ahead of schedule in the city of Brisbane in the Australian state of Queensland. This 1,706-foot (520-meter)-long structure crosses the section of the Brisbane River between Brisbane’s inner suburb of Dutton Park and the St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland (UQ).
Campbell Newman, lord mayor of Brisbane from 2004 to 2011 (and premier of Queensland between 2012 and 2015), officiated at the dedication of the bridge. “The opening was marked with a family fun day of activities and entertainment,” noted a news release from UQ.
This bridge was the first one in Australia to be exclusively designed for shared use by bicyclists, pedestrians, and buses. Bicyclists and pedestrians were able to first make their way across the bridge on its opening day; over the next several months, bus services began using the new structure as well.
The large-scale plans for this bridge have also involved energy conservation measures. These measures include the use of low-wattage lights on the bridge. In addition, a high-profile solar roof was installed to likewise help make the bridge more energy efficient. That roof’s panels feed electricity back into the supply authority grid; this helps offset the power electricity used by the bridge at night. Due to the development of these energy-saving plans during the design and construction phases for the bridge, the structure became widely known as the “Green Bridge” prior to its inauguration. This name is still used by many people today when referring to the bridge.
The official name for the new bridge was announced by Newman on August 28, 2006. He had been given a short list of possible names by an independent panel of citizens that went through hundreds of choices suggested by the public. The new bridge’s namesake was a South African-born Australian educational scientist and Brisbane resident. Eleanor Schonell (1902-1962) achieved worldwide renown for her trailblazing work with children affected by dyslexia and cerebral palsy
On the day that the Eleanor Schonell Bridge made its formal debut, UQ vice-chancellor John Hay highlighted the significance of this structure for his university. He explained, “Eighty years ago, St Lucia was chosen as the site for establishing the university on the understanding the Brisbane City Council would agree to make the campus accessible with a bridge.”
Hay then noted, “Although the council has since provided bus and ferry services to and from UQ, the opening of the new bridge marks both the adherence to that promise and an unprecedented level of access to the campus. The bridge will bring the University closer to the surrounding community, opening the campus and its facilities to people living on the south side, while observing the University’s commitment to the environment.”
Photo Credit: Kgbo (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)
For more information on the Eleanor Schonell Bridge, please check out https://structurae.net/en/structures/eleanor-schonell-bridge
Additional information on the bridge’s opening is available at https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2006/12/bridge-links-communities