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Getting Grafton Bridge Ready For The Next 100 Years

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

30 September 2008 - The much anticipated work to strengthen and future-proof Grafton Bridge gets under way on 25 October. The bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic, but open to pedestrians and cyclists, from this date until the bridge reopens in time for its 100th anniversary in early 2010.

Work on the heritage icon is needed to bring it up to modern environmental and transport standards. Recent structural investigations found earthquake resistance was not considered in the bridge's original design and that heavy transport, including buses, should not use the bridge.

The repairs mean the bridge will be able to withstand a one-in-a-thousand-year earthquake and accommodate up to 1200 buses a day. Accommodating more buses on the bridge is integral to maximising the benefits of the Central Connector busway and making inner city bus travel faster and more reliable. The bridge will become an important transport link between Grafton and the CBD, while retaining its heritage glory.

The chairperson of the Transport Committee, Councillor Ken Baguley says: "The aim of this work is to strengthen Grafton Bridge so that it can be incorporated in future transport and environmental plans in accordance with today's earthquake standards."

The work will involve strengthening the bridge columns with steel bar reinforcements, strengthening the bridge beams with carbon fibre and installing new reinforcements to resist horizontal earthquake movement.

There will also be some restoration work including repairing cracks in the concrete, removing algal growth and replacing joints and bridge bearings.

A detailed traffic management plan will ensure continued traffic flow in the vicinity of the bridge. Alternative travel routes will be communicated to the public so people can plan their journeys around the bridge. The council is also working closely with Auckland City Hospital, St Johns Ambulance and other emergency service organisations to ensure quick and easy access to and from the hospital is maintained.

This work is part of the Central Connector project, a dedicated busway that will link the CBD and Newmarket via key locations such as Auckland City Hospital, the University Learning Quarter and the Domain.

The previous transport committee approved a plan for the bridge to be closed to private traffic between 7am and 7pm from early 2010. However, the council has agreed to review options for the future use of Grafton Bridge. The Grafton community and other interested parties will be consulted so a decision can be made before the bridge reopens. "Having the bridge closed for this period gives the council an opportunity to evaluate the effect on traffic movements in the area and find an appropriate solution for the bridge's future," says Councillor Baguley. The work on Grafton Bridge will not change its appearance or alter its heritage status. Key facts: o Construction began in 1908 o Opened in 1910, one year before the Auckland Town Hall and two before the Central Post Office. o In 1910 Grafton Bridge was regarded as the world's longest single-span concrete bridge o 98m (320 feet) long, 43m (142 feet) high o On the New Zealand Historic Places listing and the IPENZ Engineering Heritage Register o A 2006 poll of University of Auckland School of Engineering alumni placed the bridge third on the list of New Zealand's engineering achievements, after the Manapouri Power Station and America's Cup yacht Black Magic.

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