Hundreds of thousands celebrate second Gateway [with video]

The second Gateway Bridge was showcased to the public for the first time today, with thousands coming to see the bridge and be present for the official naming ceremony.

Event organiser Kath Rose said 200,000 people came to walk on the new bridge, equalling the number of visitors who came to see the original Gateway Bridge open in 1986.

Minister for Main Roads Craig Wallace said people had turned up in record numbers to the Queensland Government’s newest piece of transport infrastructure.

He said the three-year Gateway Upgrade Project had created 6,000 jobs and formed part of a record job creation in roads throughout Queensland.

“Around $4 billion are being spent on roads this year, 30,000 jobs across the state. The biggest road budget by far of any state in Australia,” he said.

But Opposition Transport spokeswoman Fiona Simpson said last week Labor had abandoned Queensland motorists, with no new Queensland road projects announced in the 2010-11 federal budget.

She said the decision had left the south-east Queensland region choked with traffic.

“Queensland desperately needs a financial shot in the arm to make necessary projects, such as the Kingsford Smith Drive, the Northern Link tunnel and Bruce Highway upgrades, happen,” Ms Simpson said.

Premier Anna Bligh officially opened the bridge at around 11 o’clock, with the bridges named after long-serving public servant Sir Leo Hielscher.

Ms Bligh said Sir Leo had been an important part of building Queensland, and his contribution to the construction of the original Gateway Bridge had been vital.

“If it wasn’t for Sir Leo and his creative financing we would never have seen the first bridge built,” she said.

Sir Leo said it was an honour to have the bridges named after him, but paid tribute to the public service teams which helped him with the infrastructure.

“It has certainly been a team effort that has been successful,” he said.

Sir Leo retired earlier this year after 68 years working in the Queensland Treasury and the Queensland Treasury Corporation.

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