Grafton Bridge gets a high-tech makeover
An innovative process to strengthen Grafton Bridge will mean it can handle more than three times its original load capacity.
The bridge had previously been found unsafe for heavy traffic and did not reach modern earthquake standards.
Ken Baguley, chairman of Auckland City Council’s transport committee, says the use of carbon fibre strips underneath the bridge is the point of difference.
“It’s more akin to building an America’s Cup boat than a bridge,” he says.
Upgrades to the historic bridge are ahead of schedule and it is likely to reopen in September, despite early 2010 being earmarked as the original completion date.
The repairs will cost almost $7 million and project manager Graham Long says the carbon fibre will stop the bridge from cracking.
“The bridge is being strengthened for safety reasons and to increase its load-carrying capacity from 13 tonnes to 40 tonnes,” says Mr Long.
“Upon completion, the bridge will be able to withstand a one-in1000-year earthquake and accommodate up to 1200 buses a day.”
Next year also marks the bridge’s 100th anniversary.
One hundred-year-old steel beams have been removed and replaced, which Mr Long says is so the bridge won’t rock too much.
He says the works will be New Zealand’s biggest ever carbon fibre reinforced polymer bridge project.
Because the bridge is a category A heritage structure, its original look and integrity
strengthening has to be maintained.
There are 18 abseilers working on the bridge, which sits 43 metres above the Grafton gully.
It will be used for the central connector busway project, due to open next year, which will mean a bus route between Britomart and Newmarket.
Mr Long says it will improve access for 65,000 Aucklanders.
“The bridge will soon be able to act as an important transport link between Grafton and the CBD while retaining its heritage glory.”
Road alignment work is also being carried out on Park Rd near Auckland hospital.
Auckland District Health Board daily operations manager Denise Manning says there has been a positive response to the bridge closure because it has been kept open to pedestrians throughout the repairs.
“Traffic flow has been slower but the contractors have worked hard to minimise any issues,” she says.
Miss Manning says there are several other ways for people to get to nearby Auckland Hospital.
Plans have been discussed by the transport committee for Grafton Bridge to be closed to private vehicles when it reopens.
This has not been finalised and Mr Baguley says people should know within six months what the situation will be.
He says later this month footpath work will progress around Park Rd and he is grateful to shopkeepers and the public for their patience.
Historic upgrade: Project manager Graham Long, left, carbon fibre manager Hugo Johnson and transport committee chairman Ken Baguley. Photo: JASON OXENHAM