Grafton Bridge opens with safer re­stric­tions

Central Leader - - News - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

Auck­land’s his­toric Grafton Bridge, which hits the cen­tu­ry­mark next year, will re­open to traf­fic on Mon­day af­ter be­ing closed for strength­en­ing.

The bridge will be open to buses be­tween 7am and 7pm week­days while pri­vate ve­hi­cles will only be able to use it out­side of th­ese times.

There are no re­stric­tions for walk­ers, cy­clists and emer­gency ve­hi­cles.

The cross­ing, which sits 43 me­tres above Grafton gully, re­ceived a $7 mil­lion car­bon fi­bre strength­en­ing up­grade af­ter it was found to be un­safe for heavy traf­fic.

Work has been com­pleted ahead of sched­ule and it is now in line with mod­ern earth­quake stan­dards.

It is ex­pected the bridge will be able to cope with a load-car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of 40 tonnes, in­stead of the pre­vi­ous 13 tonnes.

Auck­land City Coun­cil’s trans­port com­mit­tee re­cently con­firmed the op­er­at­ing hours and plans to mon­i­tor the bridge for six months, to see if fur­ther im­prove­ments are needed.

Chair­man Ken Bag­u­ley says it is stan­dard prac­tice to en­sure new bus lanes are op­er­at­ing at max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency.

The coun­cil re­ceived 44 stake­holder re­sponses on the op­er­at­ing hours and 75 per­cent sup­ported light traf­fic dur­ing the day­time.

Those who op­posed the re­stric­tions felt it was in­ap­pro­pri­ate to ban cars from an im­por­tant route through the city.

The cen­tral con­nec­tor pri­or­ity bus route is also set to open this month, which will link cen­tral Auck­land with New­mar­ket via Brit­o­mart, Auck­land Uni­ver­sity, Grafton Bridge, Auck­land Hospi­tal and Khy­ber Pass.

The route is ex­pected to reach full ca­pac­ity by Fe­bru­ary and the bridge car­ries 65,000 bus pas­sen­gers daily.

Auck­land mayor John Banks says both the com­ple­tion of the strength­en­ing work and cen­tral con­nec­tor project is a mile­stone.

“I am pleased to be able to give Auck­lan­ders faster, more re­li­able bus travel be­tween our two largest com­mer­cial hubs, the city cen­tre and New­mar­ket,” Mr Banks says.

A spe­cial civic re­open­ing cer­e­mony and open day will be held at Grafton Bridge on Sun­day from 11am to 4pm, also part of Auck­land Her­itage Fes­ti­val.

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