Grafton Bridge opens with safer restrictions

16:00, Oct 01 2009

Auckland’s historic Grafton Bridge, which hits the century-mark 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.

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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.

Central Leader