The University footbridge was designed in 1928 by the South Australian railways department. After the design, construction of the bridge was delayed by the depression until 1937.
The bridge was part-funded by the Waite family whose philanthropy also led to the establishment of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute at Urrbrae. Adelaide City Council also part-funded the bridge as part of its contribution to the centenary of South Australia in 1936.
Described as a 'brave' design this bridge is said to be the first welded steel bridge in South Australia. It features a balanced cantilever construction and consists of two identical halves which pivot on two twin bearings with concrete counterweights which meet at the centre.
Built by local contractors, Grove & Sons of Highgate, the internal arch span is 46 metres.
It features delicate cast iron balustrading with integrated lamp standards.
In 2015 the bridge was in the news because of the number of “love locks” that have been fixed to the bridge. Someone suggested the bridge might be compromised because of the weight of thousands of locks – but there is no structural risk – merely some minimal risk to cyclists and pedestrians who might accidentally brush against the padlocks as they go over. The Lord Mayor said in 2016 that more time had been spent in the Council chambers debating the future of the love locks than the council's strategic plan.
In 1971 in a Prosh Day (University student) prank, an old FJ Holden was suspended from the bridge, with cables, so it's unlikely that the weight of the padlocks affects the integrity of the bridge.