Crum­bling into the sea

Central Leader - - News - By Heather McCracken

CHUNKS of con­crete fall­ing off the old Man­gere Bridge have prompted calls for it to be knocked down and re­placed.

Signs warn boat­ies to be care­ful of fall­ing de­bris.

Manukau Cruis­ing Club com­modore Ron Wil­liams says it’s time to look at build­ing a re­place­ment.

“If you go un­der­neath you can see where all the re­in­forc­ing steel has started to rust and chunks of con­crete are fall­ing off.”

A new bridge could also give bet­ter ac­cess to the up­per Manukau Har­bour, now lim­ited by the low clear­ance un­der the old bridge, he says.

But some kind of walk­ing and cy­cle link needs to be re­tained.

“If they took it down they would have to re­place it with some other form of ac­cess for the com­mu­nity.”

Man­gere Bridge Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Roger Bald­win sup­ports re­plac­ing the bridge as well.

“I think the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion is so great now it’s be­yond re­demp­tion,” he says.

“Even the van­dals are kick­ing bits off it at low tide.

“It should be de­mol­ished and re­placed with a bridge with bet­ter ac­cess to the up­per har­bour.”

Tran­sit north­ern’s op­er­a­tions man­ager Joseph Flana­gan says the bridge is un­der­go­ing struc­tural strength­en­ing, likely to take a cou­ple of months.

He says there are no safety con­cerns, de­spite pieces of con­crete fall­ing from the un­der­side of the bridge.

“No con­crete fall­ing off is of a struc­tural na­ture, it’s just the age of the bridge.”

He says the long-term plan is still be­ing de­cided, but a de­ci­sion will need to be made soon.

The bridge can be main­tained for some time still, but will need in­creas­ing lev­els of re­pair and main­te­nance work.

“We ex­pect there will be a bridge there and we ex­pect the bridge will look sim­i­lar to the ex­ist­ing bridge, but how we do that has not been de­cided,” says Mr Flana­gan.

Tran­sit orig­i­nally planned to pull down the bridge and re­place it with a smaller foot­bridge as part of the Manukau Har­bour Cross­ing project to build a du­pli­cate road bridge.

But plans were with­drawn in 2006 be­cause of the 1914 struc­ture’s her­itage value.

His­toric Places Trust ar­chi­tec­ture ad­viser Robin By­ron says the trust would like to see el­e­ments of the old bridge in­cluded in any up­grade or re­place­ment.

“Fun­da­men­tally, the bridge prob­a­bly needs sub­stan­tial re­place­ment but it would be very nice to re­tain some of the fea­tures of the orig­i­nal bridge.

“If they were go­ing to do that, we would want to be in­volved.”

She says al­though the bridge is not her­itage pro­tected, it is recog­nised as a his­tor­i­cal fea­ture of the area.

Photo JA­SON OXENHAM

Re­pairs needed: One­hunga fish­er­man Sabn Boskvic says the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing Man­gere Bridge is the best place to fish.

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