A National Trust-listed bridge which was once the main gateway to Melbourne’s west will be upgraded this week as part of the Victorian Government’s Suburban Roads Upgrade.

Member for Footscray Katie Hall today announced the start of important work to rehabilitate the Ballarat Road Bridge, under the $1.8 billion Western Roads Upgrade.

The crossings over the Maribyrnong River are steeped in history, with the outbound Lynch’s Bridge built in 1936 and heritage listed for its “historical and technical significance” by the National Trust in 2005.

Millions of Victorians and visitors would have crossed this bridge in some form, with the present structure replacing earlier versions built in 1909, 1882 and 1864. The first of the bridges was built by Michael Lynch, who operated a punt and the nearby Pioneer Hotel at the time.

Lynch’s Bridge also holds technical engineering significance, as one of the first steel and concrete crossings designed so the reinforced concrete deck works together with the steel beams.

The historic five-span bridge sits alongside its more modern counterpart known as the Smithfield Bridge, which was built in 1990.

The 108-metre bridges will undergo work to strengthen them for the future for up to 45,000 vehicles which travel over them every day.

It is anticipated they’ll be used by up to 50,000 cars and trucks daily by 2031.

The art-deco style of Lynch’s Bridge will be preserved as safety barriers are upgraded on both bridges, and footpaths and drainage will also be improved.

There will be some lane closures in place as this work is underway to ensure road crews can work safely and quickly.

Work will begin later this year to rehabilitate more crossings at Queen Street and Kororoit Creek Road in Altona, and on the pedestrian overpass at Geelong Road, near Lewis Street in Kingsville.

More than 1,100 workers are helping deliver the Western Roads Upgrade with major construction due for completion by 2021.

Alongside key construction projects, more than 260 kilometres of arterial roads are being improved, resurfaced and rehabilitated from Footscray to Werribee ahead of a 20-year maintenance program.

The Western Roads Upgrade is being delivered by Major Road Projects Victoria, in partnership with Netflow.

Quotes attributable to Member for Footscray, Katie Hall

“I’ve admired the unique and historic Ballarat Road Bridge many times while travelling over it, so I’m thrilled to announce work has started to strengthen it for years to come.”

“The Western Roads Upgrade is not only building new lanes to slash congestion in Melbourne’s west – we’re improving hundreds of kilometres of roads which are already there, including the historic Ballarat Road Bridge.”