The Old Māngere Bridge has been permanently closed.
On 25 November the NZ Transport Agency took the significant but necessary step of permanently closing the bridge, which links the Onehunga and Māngere Bridge communities, because of concerns about the risk to public safety.
A low key blessing attended by iwi, local board members and NZ Transport Agency staff, was held on site this morning (26 November).
The gates on the bridge have been permanently locked and four security guards are patrolling the bridge 24/7 and CCTV is being installed.
NZ Transport Agency Director of Regional Relationships Steve Mutton says people’s safety is the agency’s number-one priority.
“The Old Māngere Bridge is more than 100 years old and, as expected with a bridge of this age, its condition has been deteriorating for some time.
“We understand the Old Māngere Bridge is a much-loved and very popular meeting and fishing place that has linked the Onehunga and Māngere Bridge communities for more than a century and we have not taken this decision lightly.”
As the bridge has continued to age, the transport agency has been working hard to balance keeping it open while also ensuring it remains safe for people to use.
“We have been monitoring the bridge and ongoing inspections have shown that its condition has continued to deteriorate. While this isn’t uncommon for a structure of its age, the steps we have taken so far to reduce the risk and keep it open are no longer enough for us to be confident about the bridge’s condition and safety,” says Mr Mutton.
Work to improve the alternative route across the harbour is almost complete and plans to build a permanent new bridge are well underway.
“The transport agency is upgrading the underpass next to the Manukau Harbour Crossing motorway structure, which has a walking and cycling track under the road deck. This will be the alternative route connecting the Onehunga and Māngere Bridge communities until the replacement bridge is built.
“Importantly, we have raised the railing on the open side of the underpass to 1.4m to make it safer for people on bikes and have installed lighting to improve conditions during the evening and night. We will be actively monitoring the underpass to ensure that it is safe for everyone to use and we welcome feedback and suggestions around any further safety improvements people are keen to see,” says Mr Mutton.
The NZ Transport Agency is also keen to hear from the community about good alternative fishing spots in the area that it could promote.
A new bridge is coming
Construction on the new bridge will start next year. This will include walking, cycling and fishing facilities. Resource consent has already been granted and the contract for construction of the new bridge will be complete early next year. It is expected to take about two-and-a-half years to build the replacement bridge.
“We are working as quickly as possible on a replacement because we know this is an important community link,” he says.
The new bridge will be at least 8m wide – and up to 12m in some bays to enable fishing. The new structure will curve towards the motorway bridge, will be high enough for small boats to pass underneath and have a wider span to allow some form of opening for larger boats in the future. The new bridge will be constructed next to the old bridge using the same abutments – but further away from the port.
The Old Māngere Bridge will be demolished during construction of the new structure. Leaving it in the harbour is not an option as it poses a risk to people passing underneath it.
In June 2016, a fence was installed on either side of the central walkway to prevent loading to the edges of the bridge where gathering crowds could pose a risk to public safety.
This work enabled the bridge to remain open and the structure has undergone both weekly walkovers and monthly water inspections, as well as real-time monitoring to assess its condition.
“While we haven’t been able to keep the old bridge open as long as we’d have liked, we are looking forward to creating a new meeting place and connection that will serve these communities and visitors well into the future,” says Steve Mutton.
Read more on the NZ Transport Agency's website.