Grafton Bridge gets a high-tech makeover

Central Leader - - News - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

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

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