1932 Public Works Department Annual Report.

From Engineering Heritage New South Wales


                        Sydney Harbour Bridge.

                        Report for the year ended 30th June, 1932.

    I have the honor to submit the following report on the work of the Branch for the year ended 30th June 1932.

                    1. CONSTRUCTION OF THE NORTHERN APPROACH BY THE SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE BRANCH.

    During this year, the Branch had to expedite its work to allow other authorities sufficient time for the installation of their equipment so that everything could be in readiness for train, tram and vehicular traffic by I9th March, 1932.

    (a) Excavation.

    The total excavation work during the year amounted to 32,215 cubic yards, the principal items being, widening of McDougall-street, excavation near Walker-street, and grading for track formation.

    (b) Concrete.

    A total of 11,079 cubic yards of concrete were poured, 6,765 cubic yards for the roadway and footway, 2,429 cubic yards of reinforced, 231 cubic yards of lightly reinforced, and the remainder as plain concrete and various small items.

    (c) Waterproofing.

    During the year, 896 square yards of fabric waterproofing were laid, being chiefly that for the subway under Blue-street to North Sydney Station. The viaduct in the vicinity of the 220 feet steel arch required 3,144 square yards of mastic waterproofing. The protection of the foregoing fabric and mastic waterproofing required 151 cubic yards of brickwork.

    (d) Brickwork.

    Various works were carried out with brickwork, the principal ones being the shops at Milson's Point Station and the North Sydney Station building, including the shops fronting Blue-street. The total quantity of brickwork was 1,221 cubic yards.

    (e) Drainage System.

    During this year, the major portion of the drainage system was constructed, a total of 7,629 feet of pipes being laid, ranging from the 30-inch reinforced concrete pipes in Walker-street to the 4-inch earthenware pipes in Milsons Point Station.

    (f) Surfaces of Footways and Roadway.

    The roadway from the north end of contract to its unction with Alfre-street was laid in sheet asphalt upon an 8-inch reinforced concrete slab. The sheet asphalt was laid in two courses, the binder course and surface course, each being 1½ inches thick.

    The area of sheet asphalt was 14,514 square yards.

    McDougall street reconditioning and widening was carried out with bitumen penetration as were repairs to Arthur-street and the completion of the work at the corner of Burton and Broughton streets. The total area penetrated was 2,814 square yards.

    The platforms and concourse of North Sydney and Milson's Point Stations were surfaced with mastic asphalt 1¼| inches thick, the total area being 7,069 .'Square yards.

    (g) General.

    The 220 feet steel arch was completed.

    The whole of the trackwork for both trams and trains was carried out, a ballast train and plough van used to spread the ballast evenly.

    In addition, a large amount of work was carried out by contract in accordance with the plans and specifications in the Drawing Office. The chief ones were tiling of North Sydney and Milson’s Point Stations, magnesite flooring for station offices; terrazzo flooring for lavatories in North Sydney and Milson’s Point Stations; metal awnings to Alfred and Broughton-street entrances of Milson’s Point Station; terra cotta facing to Milson's Point Station; and collapsible gates and ticket barriers to North Sydney and Milson's Point Stations.

    During the year, the Signal Engineer and the Electrical Engineer of the Railway Department were collaborated with in order to arrange for the installation and housing equipment as the work proceeded.

                    2. CONTRACT OF DORMAN, LONG AND COMPANY, LTD.

    (a) Civil Engineering.

    As at 1st July, 1931, the construction of the pylons had advanced to above the arches over the footway and railway tracks, from then onwards it proceeded rapidly because during the period when the anchorage cables did not allow construction to proceed, the quarry was able to cut most of the granite masonry and send it up for storage on the sites at Dawes' Point and Milson's Point. The method adopted was to build course by course setting the masonry first and then pouring the concrete behind.

    Two heavy reinforced concrete floors were constructed and also a reinforced concrete structure on the top of each pylon. These latter were made use of for the cleaning down of the pylons by leaving openings in the walls to act as the anchorages for steel joists resting on the granite parapet and supporting the scaffolds.

    Milson's Point pylon was completed in January, 1932, and Dawes' Point pylon in December, 1931. As soon as the pylons were finished, a commencement was made to clean down and point the masonry. This was a laborious process and was carried out by men using wire brushes and water on the dressed surfaces, with the addition of weak hydrochloric acid on the rock-faced surfaces. Masons were employed at the same time to cut out and point the joints after the cleaners.

    The contractors employed as many men as the scaffolds would hold in order to have the pylons cleaned down in time for the Opening Ceremony, these men worked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Daws' Point pylon was completed by the opening date and the Milson's Point pylon soon afterwards.

    In July, 1931, the coke concrete was placed in the trough plates of the roadway on the southern half of the arch. Rapid progress was made, as ample supplies were obtained by using metallurgical coke from Bellambi coke ovens to augment the original source of supply from Wongawilli. The remainder of the coke concrete had been previously placed in position with the exception of a small section at each pylon which was not finished until early in 1932 as the area was covered by the crane towers used for the construction of the pylons.

    Roadway asphalt paving had been laid the previous year on the approach spans leaving the roadway over the arch section to be completed during the present year. When the coke concrete had been placed and cured, a start was made in August, 1931, on the rock asphalt pavement.

    Dorman, Long and Co. desired to use the finished roadway pavement as a working platform for the adzing and painting of the railway and tramway track transoms, in order to do this the sub-contractors, Neuchatel Asphalt Co., increased their output by using heaters at the Waterloo works as well as the portable heaters on the site. The section through the arch was completed during September, 1931.

    This completed the roadway pavement except for the small area at each pylon where the crane towers stood. These areas were completed early in 1932.

    Asphalt paving was laid on the footways of the main span also on the transverse footways through the pylons: the material being a sheet asphalt with a high bitumen content.

    The laying of the timber transoms and planking for the train and tram tracks was in progress at the end of June, 1931, and the work was pushed on with all possible speed during the year.

    Ironbark transoms were supplied under sub-contract by Allen Taylor and Co., Ltd., and were obtained from all over the coastal districts of New South Wales, as considerable difficulty was experienced in obtaining the required lengths.

    During the year, transoms were adzed and bolted down on a approach spans Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 and on the main arch.

    A start was made to lay the 100-lb. rails in September, 1931, this work being finished in January, 1932.

    For the tram tracks, the rails were laid directly on the transoms, sleeper plates being used for the train tracks.

    Screw Spikes were used in all cases to hold the rails down on the transoms.

    On completion, the permanent-way was used by the Department to convey ballast trains to Dawes' Point side, the first train going across on 20th January, 1932.

    By 3rd February, the overhead wiring had been fixed in position by the Electrical Branch, and on 4th February, a commencement was made to test load the approach spans and main arch.

    The work of cleaning up the site had already been started at 1st July, 1931, and is now complete.

    All rubbish and spoil dumps have been removed and the concrete saddles at the entrances to the anchorage tunnels cut off below ground level and the tunnels filled with spoil.

    The western side of the anchorage tunnel at Milson's Point passes under the edge of approach pier No. 15. It was considered advisable to underpin the pier in case the rock gave way in the course of time and accordingly a heavy concrete bulkhead was built across the tunnel at this point.

    Where damaged, the sea-wall and parapet along Hickson-road in front of the Dawes' Point Pylon, has been re-built by the contractors and the Department has regraded the roadway and opened it to traffic.

    The old building at Dawes' Point previously used as a works office by the contractors and the Department was sold and demolished and the Department has filled in the pylon to the level of the back doorway and regraded the whole of the area under the approach spans and round the pylon.

    At Milson's Point, the Department has regraded under the approach spans and at present is completing the regrading round the pylon.

    During the year the following work was carried out under the various contract schedule items:—

No. 1 concrete ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 6,859 cubic yards.
No. 2 concrete ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ..124 cubic yards.
Granite masonry ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...2,434 cubic yards.
Four-cut work on granite masonry .. ... ... ... 31,552 super. feet.
Coke concrete ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...1,144 cubic yards.
Asphalt on roadway ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ..11,941 super. yards.
Asphalt on footways ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...5,405 super. yards.
Timber work .... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...54,763 cubic feet.
Ruberoid protection ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ..51,164 lineal feet.
Reinforcing bars ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...115 tons.
Rails and fastenings ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...10,054 lineal yards.

    (b) Fabrication of Steelwork.

    The delivery of rolled steel to the workshops ceased during December, 1931.

    There were 552 tons of steel delivered during the year.

    The total tonnage of metalwork delivered for the Bridge was 53,355 tons, including scrap, and 695 tons of field rivets.

    Fabrication of steelwork was completed during December, 1931, 944 tons being fabricated during the first seven months of the year. The total output of the shops during the contract was 52,781 tons, of which 11,026 tons were Australian steel and 41,755 tons were English steel, a total of 52,781 tons, or 79 per cent, from England and 21 per cent, from Australia.

    The removal of the fabricating plant commenced during August, 1931. The dismantling of the heavy fabrication,' shop commenced on 16th November, 1931. The shops should be completely dismantled by the end of July, 1932.

    (c) Erection of Steelwork

    The erection of steelwork under the contract was completed during January, 1932, a total of 1,367 tons being erected during the year, making 52,781 tons in all for the completion of the contract.

    The erection work to complete the contract during the year comprised the following items:—
    1.Erection of overhead wiring structures on the main span.
    2. Completion of the riveting of the web splices of the top chords after the removal of the reinforcing plates.
    3. Erection of painting cranes on the top chords on north and south sides.
    4. Erection of steelwork in the pylon towers above the 155 feet level.
    5. Erection of access stairways, footways and handrailing on the top and bottom chords.
    6. Re-conditioning of the approach span painting cranes and gantries.
    7. Laying of the permanent way expansion joints and fittings.
    8. Completion of the painting of the steelwork.
    9. Erection of door and fences on lower chord and diagonal at panel points 22 and on main bearings.
    This work is not yet completed.

    The last rivet was driven in the shops on 26th November, 1931, on the pylon stairway steelwork.

    The last rivet was driven in the field at the crown of the arch on 28th August, 1931, and in the deck troughing after the removal of the timber towers supporting the pylon cranes on 21st January, 1932,

    The test loading of the approach spans and main span was carried out from 3rd February to 27th February, 1932.

    (d) Painting.
    During the year, the first field coat was applied to: —
    1. Outside surfaces and inner floors of the upper and lower chords
    2. The lower portion of the main span cross-girders.

    The second field coat was applied to the following during the year :—
    1. All roadway and footway parapets on approach and main spans.
    2. Trusses and cross frames of span No. 1.
    3. On twelve panels of lateral system of upper and lower chords.
    4. Exterior surfaces of all hangers.
    . On twelve panels of posts and diagonals.
    6. All main span cross-girders excepting the four centre cross-girders which were painted last year.
    7. On twenty panels of railway and roadway stringers. The painting was completed during March except for the plated ends of cross-girders at panel points Nos. 20, 18, 16 and 14, southern end.
    8. Outside surfaces and inner floors of the upper and lower chords.
    The total quantity of paint used in the contract is as follows
                                                    Gallons.
Shop priming coat of red lead                        18,600
First field coat                                       9,300
Second field coat                                      8,200
Total 36,600

                    3. CONSTRUCTION OF THE SOUTHERN APPROACH BY THE SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE BRANCH.

    During the year a considerable amount of leeway had to be made up owing to curtailment of funds during previous years.

    (a) Excavation.

    The excavation amounted to 33,930 cubic yards, the main items being the regrading under the southern approach steelwork and the widening of Argyle Cut.

    (b) Concrete Work.

    A total of 13,969 cubic yards of concrete were poured, of which the concrete slab of Bradfield Highway accounts for 5,593 cubic yards.

    (c) Waterproofing.

    Mastic waterproofing, 72 square yards and fabric waterproofing 702 square yards, a total of 774 square yards, required 83 cubic yards of protective brickwork.

    (d) Roadways and Footways.

    The sheet asphalt of Bradfield Highway was laid to a similar specification to that on the northern approach, with the exception that the bitumen used by one contractor was an oil residual bitumen whereas on the northern side, and for that portion on the southern approach carried out by the City Council, it was Trinidad bitumen. The total area was 21,857 square yards.

    The Crescent subways and the pedestrian subway connecting Upper Fort-street and York-street North were surfaced with 1¼-inch mastic asphalt.

    (e) General.

    In addition to the above, there was a considerable amount of work which included the erection of overhead wiring structures and the casting and erection of the reinforced concrete lamp standards.

    The drainage system of the southern approach was laid, entailing the laying of 3,190 linear feet of various sizes of concrete pipes varying from 21 inches to 9 inches in diameter.

    Brick retaining walls were completed in Kent-street from Gas-lane and Jenkin-street to Napoleon-street, and on the west side of Bradfield Highway in the vicinity of the Crescent, ordinance fences were erected on them. Blocks were stripped, filling placed and kerb and gutter laid both in Kent-street and Gas-lane. The latter and Jenkin-street were cobbled, and Kent-street penetrated, with the exception of the area clear of the regrading.

    P.M.G. cables, City Council cables, tramway feeders, water, gas, and hydraulic mains, and Water Board electric overhead power supply and poles were lifted and re-routed where necessary.

    lectric subways and ducts from the Argyle Substation were constructed near the south end of contract.

    The old stone arch spanning Argyle Cut was demolished and Argyle Cut widened to sixty feet.

    The concreting of the tunnel floors and the laying of precast cable racks, the pouring of drains and the building of a signal hut were completed. The railway tracks were laid, fastened, lifted and concreted in the tunnels and laid on ballast outside. Negative conductor rails were laid where necessary.

    The tramway tracks were laid on ballast throughout; crossovers having been assembled above ground and afterwards laid in the tunnel.

    In connection with the Opening Ceremony, the dais, various stands, sanitary accommodation sheds, wireless gear huts and electric works, etc., were erected, and afterwards dismantled, police barriers were also distributed along the line of the procession and later collected.

                    4. FINANCIAL REVIEW.

    (a) Land Tax.

    Under the Sydney Harbour Bridge Act, 1922, a land tax of one halfpenny in the pound was imposed upon the unimproved capital value of all rateable land within the City of Sydney, the Municipalities of North Sydney, Mosman, Manly, Lane Cove, Ku-ring-gai and Willoughby, the Shire of Warringah and portion of the Shire of Hornsby, to defray one-third of the capital cost of the construction and land resumptions and provide for the maintenance and lighting of the roadway and footways of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and approaches.

    During the year, the Sydney Harbour Bridge (Administration) Act,1932, was passed, and one of its provisions was that the land tax should continue until the year 1939 and that the proceeds therefrom are to be paid to a special account in the Treasury. From this account, interest, maintenance, lighting, collection of tolls and all other outgoings incurred by the Crown apart from the costs and expenses of construction are to be paid.

    The tax was first imposed in 1923. the details of the rate levy for the years 1923-32 are shown on the table attached. Of the total of £1,631,614 due to 30th June, 1932, a total of £1,439,952 3s. 8d. had been received, leaving a balance of £191,661 16s. 4d. to be paid before 31st December, 1932.

    The table shows the details of rates due since the tax was first imposed, the payments to 30th June, 1932, and the balance outstanding at that date.

                                Sydney Harbour Bridge Rate Levy—Amounts Due, Payments and Outstanding Amounts at 30th June, 1932.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Rate Levy—Amounts Due, Payments and Outstanding Amounts at 30th June, 1932


    Under the Sydney Harbour Bridge (Administration) Act, 1932, the administration, control and management of the Bridge was vested in the State Transport (Co-ordination) Board.

    Subsequently, the Ministry of Transport Act, 1932 was assented to and the Transport Co-ordination Board ceased to function, the administration, control and management of the Bridge passing to the Transport Commissioners.

    (b) Expenditure.

    The total expenditure to 30th June, 1932, is shown in the following table. The cost to date of the Bridge and approaches, including land resumptions, accrued interest and all other charges, is £9,766,124 1s. 6d., of which interest and exchange account for £,484,901 11s. 10d., and resumptions, £1,325,789 8s. 2d.

                                Sydney Harbour Bridge - Expenditure to 30th June 1932.

*This amount includes all costs involved from the inception of the work in 1900 to 30th June, 1923. † A credit of £31.395 0s. 10d. was received from the Railway Department in June,1928, in adjustment of amounts over-debited during previous years.


    For the contract of Dorman, Long and Co., Ltd., wages variations due to alterations of awards and the introduction of the shorter working week and the excess overhead consequent thereon is approximately 13½ per cent, of the payment under the contract. This percentage will be reduced to about 13 per cent, on the completion of the contract, when the retention money is paid to the contractors.

                    5.     STAFF.

    I wish to express my appreciation of the excellent manner in which the Staff of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Branch carried out their duties during the past year.

                    J. J. C. BRADFIELD,

                    Chief Engineer,

                    Sydney Harbour Bridge.

                    25th August, 1932.

PWD Annual Report 1932 Photo 4.JPG
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