Thursday, October 8, 2009

Grafton Bridge

Grafton Bridge is a road bridge spanning Grafton Gully in Auckland City, New Zealand. Built of reinforced concrete almost 100 years ago, it connects the Auckland CBD with the Grafton suburb. Grafton Bridge spans about 97.6 metres (320 feet), rises 25.6 metres (84 feet) above the abutments and to a height of around 43 metres (142 feet) over the Grafton Gully.

The bridge is on the NZ Historic Places listing and the IPENZ Engineering Heritage Register. In a 2006 poll amongst 600 alumni of the University of Auckland School of Engineering, the bridge placed 3rd on the list of New Zealand's engineering achievements, after the Manapouri Power Station and Black Magic.


The bridge carries one traffic lane in each direction as well as footpaths on either side. At the moment (late 2008), the bridge is closed for reinforcement works. In 2010 it will reopen to become a bus priority route on the Central Connector. The footpaths are covered with an aesthetically curved glass screen, which serves to prevent people from falling or jumping off the bridge as well as providing unobstrusive weather cover (the bridge already had suicide prevention barriers from 1992 to 1996 (and extra safety fencing from as early as 1936), but after the removal, suicide rates on the bridge jumped five-fold, leading to a quiet re-installation in 2002).[3] There have been no suicides from the bridge since then as of 2009, and the feature has been called an example of best practice of preventing such acts.[4]

I used to cross this bridge when I was working at the Auckland Public Hospital to the city. The bridge was closed and reopened last week with a fanfare a civic ceremony this morning.

The 11am event was followed by an open day, as part of the Auckland Heritage Festival with heritage tours, live music and vintage vehicle displays. Auckland City Mayor John Banks marked the occasion, alongside family members of former Mayor Charles Grey, who first opened Grafton Bridge in 1910.

As part of the official ribbon cutting ceremony, a family member of Mr Grey presented the mayor with the original scissors used to open the bridge 99 years ago.

Cars and trucks are likely to be restricted to night trips only on Auckland's historic Grafton Bridge when it reopens next month as part of a $43 million busway between Britomart and Newmarket.

A review by city council staff of a proposal to ban general traffic between 7am and 7pm each weekday has found majority support among "key stakeholders" for keeping the strengthened bridge free for buses, pedestrians, cyclists and emergency vehicles. This is not very popular with motorists.

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