Footbridge destroyed by earthquake to return to the Avon River as memorial

The twisted Medway St bridge over the Avon River before it was taken away for storage.
DON SCOTT/STUFF
The twisted Medway St bridge over the Avon River before it was taken away for storage.

Christchurch riverside residents will once again be able to visit the symbolic Medway St footbridge when it returns as an earthquake memorial.

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

A section of the mangled bridge will be placed alongside Te Ara Ōtākaro, the transitional Avon River Trail, just north of the bridge's original location, on the Avonside side of the river.

The Medway St foorbridge was cut into three pieces and stored at the Ferrymead Heritage Park at the request of local communities, in 2013.
KIRK HARGREAVES/STUFF
The Medway St foorbridge was cut into three pieces and stored at the Ferrymead Heritage Park at the request of local communities, in 2013.

Signs will be put up outlining the history and significance of the bridge, which will be visible from the River Rd platform that was installed as part of the Dudley Creek diversion.

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Before the earthquakes the Medway St footbridge was fundamental in linking the surrounding neighbourhoods across the Avon River.

It was later lifted by a 300-tonne crane, cut into three pieces and stored at the Ferrymead Heritage Park at the request of local communities, in 2013.

Bringing the bridge back as a commemorative structure was identified as a priority by the Avon-Otakaro Network, Regenerate Christchurch and Christchurch City Council Enliven Places Programme.

Avon-Otakaro Network spokesman Evan Smith said the bridge remained a significant symbol of the impact of the earthquakes on the communities of the east.

"Three-quarters of those surveyed from local communities in 2012 sought the return of the bridge as a commemorative structure.

"The site also has a tragic local history that needs acknowledgement."

Smith said one day he hoped to have the full structure reassembled and displayed at the location.

"We also need to replace the lost footbridges to re-establish the connections across the river between communities and amenity," he said.

The Medway St footbridge memorial structure is expected to be completed and opened at the end of October.

Stuff