Symbolic bridge to be put in storage

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 15:10 12/02/2013
Daniel Tobin

The quake damaged Medway Street Bridge in Avonside is removed from the river by a crane.

The earthquake-damaged Medway St, Christchurch, bridge.
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
TWISTED: The earthquake-damaged Medway St, Christchurch, bridge.

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Christchurch's riverside residents experienced a mixture of sadness and relief as their Medway St footbridge was taken away.

The Richmond bridge became a symbol of the destructive power of the city's earthquakes after it was warped beyond repair by the September 2010 quake.

Workers from the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) used a 300-tonne crane to lift the twisted bridge from the Avon River site today and prepare it for transport to the Ferrymead Heritage Park.

It will remain at the park until a permanent home can be found for it to become a quake memorial.

Scirt rebuild team spokesman Bryan Hickling said the removal work went "very smoothly as expected", with the lifting  taking only a few minutes after hours of preparation.

He said the bridge was being cut into three pieces for safe transport to Ferrymead this afternoon.

Avon-Otakaro Network co-chairman Evan Smith said more than 50 residents, including a class from a creche, had visited the site during the day to see the work.

"There was a mixture of emotions. There is sadness to see it go, but there's also relief because it was a stark reminder of the earthquakes for many people,'' he said.

"Some residents had wanted the bridge to stay as it was, but safety concerns meant that was not possible.

"It was only being held on by one or two bolts, and every time there was an aftershock it was getting worse."

Smith hoped the bridge could find a place as a memorial within the Avon River park.

A farewell to the bridge has been made part of the River of Flowers commemoration at the site on February 22, organised by the Avon-Otakaro Network and Healthy Christchurch.

The Christchurch City Council asked Scirt to remove the bridge because of "health and safety concerns".

An online survey in Richmond, Avonside and Dallington in mid-2012 showed residents had mixed views on the bridge's removal.

Of the 150 who participated, 72 per cent wanted the bridge removed and stored, 19 per cent wanted it scrapped and the remainder wanted it made safe on-site.

Almost all sought a replacement footbridge at some point, with 60 per cent believing this was needed sooner rather than later.

However, the council has ruled out a temporary replacement because of the cost, while a decision on a permanent replacement will not be made until the fate of the red-zoned land is clear.

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- The Press

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