Flashback Friday | Photos from the Leader’s archives

The opening of the second Tom Uglys Bridge in 1987 was a huge community event, with more than 12,000 people turning out to witness history being made.

Completion of the $14.2 million project ended the two-way traffic arrangement, which had operated on the original bridge from its opening in 1929.

The big event on Saturday, October 17, 1987, started with speeches in the grounds of Sylvania Public School before an official procession and community walk led by the Sutherland Shire Silver Band.

Some of the dignitaries, who included Premier Barrie Unsworth and Public Works Minister Laurie Brereton, travelled in a motorcade of vintage cars.

At the northern end of Mr Unsworth and Mr Brereton unveiled a plaque and cut a ribbon, using a giant pair of scissors.

The occasion brought back memories for older residents of the opening of the first bridge.

Miss Henley, formerly of Miranda, told the Leader how her father worked on plans for the original bridge.

She recalled how proud her family was to drive across it on opening day in their T-model Ford.

‘‘Poor old bridge — it was always jokingly referred to as ‘Tom’s Ugly Bridge’ in those days,’’ she said.

The duplication of the bridge followed years of community agitation for another crossing of the Georges River.

While the opening of Captain Cook Bridge in 1965, and Alfords Point Bridge in 1973 alleviated traffic problems, it wasn’t long before traffic began queuing again at Blakehurst and Sylvania.

The duplication announcement in December, 1982, was described by the state government as “an early Christmas present”’ for motorists.

The project was scheduled for completion in 1986, but took longer than expected.

A problem developed during construction when motorists heading south on the old bridge became fascinated by the pile driving for the new structure.

The result was a spate of car crashes, sometimes involving up to seven vehicles, most of them nose to tail, and all of them delaying traffic.

Project managers came up with a solution in the form of a green plastic curtain, 700 meters long, which was strung along the eastern safety rail.

There were also problems for several months after the new bridge opened, because only two of the three lanes for north-bound traffic were opened initially.

Delays occurred on Princes Highway at Blakehurst as three lanes merged into two.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

Every Friday we delve into the Leader archives to embark on some time travel.

We will bring you a photograph of a news event from 57 years of Leader news coverage that you may or may not recall.

Flashback Friday submissions are also welcomed.

Feel free to share your recollections with us on our Facebook page @stgeorgesutherlandleader or email leaderletters@fairfaxmedia.com.au