It’s half a century since the state’s iconic Tasman Bridge was officially opened, with Sunday, March 29 marking the anniversary of one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in Tasmania.

Construction began on the bridge in April 1960, with more than 400 workers employed on site at peak times.

Minister for infrastructure Rene Hidding said the Tasman Bridge was a key strategic traffic route from Hobart’s Central Business District to the Eastern Shore.

“The official opening by the Queen’s uncle, and a former Governor-General of Australia, HRH Prince Henry, The Duke of Gloucester occurred on 29 March 1965,” Mr Hidding said.

“It was almost 10 years later when disaster struck at 9.27pm on Sunday 5 January 1975, with the bulk carrier MV Lake Illawarra colliding with the bridge, bringing down three spans and claiming 12 lives.”

Frank Manley, with his son Shayne and Frank's iconic Monaro which ended with its wheels over the edge of the bridge in 1975

Frank Manley, with his son Shayne and Frank’s iconic Monaro which ended with its wheels over the edge of the bridge in 1975.

The Tasman Bridge took two years and cost approximately $44 million to repair, with the official re-opening being staged on 8 October 1977. A fifth lane was added to the bridge as part of this work and upon re-opening, new safety procedures were implemented around shipping movements.

The 40th anniversary of this tragic event was commemorated on Monday, 5 January 2015 with a minute’s silence held at 9.27pm to mark the exact moment 40 years ago when the MV Lake Illawarra collided with the bridge.

“Today, the Tasman Bridge remains not only Hobart’s but also Tasmania’s most important transport infrastructure asset,” Mr Hidding said.