A bridge of some kind has been considered since as early as 1832 but it was not until 1943 that a crossing was accomplished in the form of a floating structure which was named the Hobart Bridge. By 1955, the bridge which really like a glorified pontoon bridge had reached its maximum of 10,000. Ever increasing congestion forced the construction of a new bridge. In 1964, the Tasman Bridge was open for traffic and on 17th August the floating Hobart Bridge was dismantled with the concrete pontoons being sunk at various locations.
The Tasman Bridge was started in May 1960 with just 2 lanes on 18th August 1964 and was finally completed and opened to traffic on 23rd December 1964 and it was officially opened by Prince Henry Duke of Gloucester on 18th March 1965 with 4 operational lanes.
The bridge was designed to carry 17,000 vehicles per day and is part of the A3 as well as a walkway for pedestrians. A series of ramps replaced the steps to allow cyclists to cross the bridge.
On Sunday 5th January 1975 at 9:27pm disaster struck as SS Lake Illawara, a bulk ore carrier, carrying 10 million kg (10,000 tons) of zinc concentrate collided causing 2 piers and 3 sections of concrete deck, 127m (416 ft) to fall and sink the boat.
The collision killed 7 of the ships crew and five motorists in four cars went over the edge before the traffic stopped.
The SS Lake Illawara still lies at the bottom of the Derwent River in 35m (115ft) with the slabs of the deck still on top. The river is still deep enough and so the wreck has been left.
Repairs started in October 1975 and was finally re-opened on Saturday 8th October at a cost of $44 million. As part of the rebuild a number of safety measures were put in place for example all traffic was stopped when a boat was passing beneath, all harbour pilots had to be trained and cleared to use the laser lighthouse and finally that all large shipping must pass slightly more to the west of the original navigation path. January 2000, a plaque was commissioned and a memorial was held for those killed on that fateful night.
The plaque was placed on one of the on one of the bridge supports. In 2015 A memorial sculpture was commissioned by Clarence City Council in honour of those who perished. The three ring sculpture cost $23,000 and represents the passage of time since the disaster. The first ring is called 'Disaster', the second is called 'Recovery' and the third is called 'Resilience'. When looking directly through the middle it focuses on the exact place where the tragedy happened.