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Monday, March 19, 2012

Sydney Harbour Bridge turns 80 today

In the popular Shankar film “Indian” – one of the hit songs was ‘telephone manipol sirippaval ivala – Melbourne malarpol melliya magala” – though the lyrical reference was to Melbourne, it was elsewhere !!

It is a bridge that is  equipped for tidal flow operation, permitting the direction of traffic flow on the bridge to be altered to better suit the morning and evening rush hours' traffic patterns.  The bridge has eight lanes in total, numbered one through eight from west to east. Lanes three, four and five are reversible. One and two always flow north. Six, seven and eight always flow south. The default is four each way. The bridge has a series of overhead gantries which indicate the direction of flow for each traffic lane. A green arrow pointing down to a traffic lane means the lane is open. A flashing red 'X' indicates the lane is closing, but is not yet in use for traffic travelling in the other direction. A static red 'X' means the lane is in use for oncoming traffic. This arrangement was introduced in the 1990s, replacing a slow operation where lane markers were manually moved to mark the centre median.  Tidal flow is also known as reversible lane. 

It is the Sydney Harbour Bridge,  one of Australia's most well known and photographed landmarks. The bridge is steel  through arch bridge across Sydney Harbour that carries rail, vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney central business district (CBD) and the North Shore. The dramatic view of the bridge, the harbour, and the nearby Sydney Opera House is an iconic image of both Sydney and Australia.   It is the world's largest (but not the longest) steel arch bridge with the top of the bridge standing 134 metres above the harbour. Fondly known by the locals as the 'Coathanger', the Sydney Harbour Bridge celebrates its 70th birthday today i.e., 19th March 2012.

For those of us interested in Cricket, Sydney is too well known – it is one of the grounds which assist spin rather than pace.  Bob Holland, the leg spinner was known as Sydney Specialist but was thrashed around by our Krishnamachari Srikkanth.    Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the State capital of New South Wales.  It is on the south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. . Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) is used for Australian football, Test cricket, One Day International cricket, some rugby league football and rugby union matches and is the home ground for the New South Wales Blues cricket team and the Sydney Swans of the Australian Football League.  Srikkanth made 116 off 117 deliveries in Jan 1986; years later Ravi Shastri made a double and Sachin 148* on a match when Shane Warne made his debut. 

The bridge spans 1149 meters with 503 meters of arch span length and each arch standing 134 meters above mean sea level. It took almost 10 years for completion and was officially opened on 19th March 1932 and thus this tall structure celebrates its 80th birthday today.  It would be remembered fondly by most and bitterly by the descendants of 16 men who reportedly died during its construction.   The bridge cost £6.25m to build and connected the northern and southern shores of the harbour.

Interestingly, the bridge was formally opened on Saturday, 19 March 1932. The Labor Premier of New South Wales, Jack Lang, was to open the bridge by cutting a ribbon at its southern end. However, just as Lang was about to cut the ribbon, a man in military uniform rode in on a horse, slashing the ribbon with his sword and opening the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the name of the people of New South Wales before the official ceremony began. He was promptly arrested.  A similar ribbon-cutting ceremony on the bridge's northern side by North Sydney's mayor, Alderman Primrose, was carried out without incident.

An interesting feature at the Bridge is the ‘bridge climb’ started in 1998 which attracts tourists and locals alike to climb the monument. The safety precautions taken include a blood alcohol reading and a Climb Simulator, which shows Climbers the climbing conditions that might be experienced on the Bridge.

The ‘telephone manipol song’ has the background of this magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.  

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