The NZ Transport Agency is taking the significant but necessary step of permanently closing the Old Māngere Bridge which links the Ōnehunga and Māngere Bridge communities because of concerns about the risk to public safety.
Director of Regional Relationships, Steve Mutton says people’s safety is the Transport Agency’s number one priority and so the Old Māngere Bridge will be permanently closed on 25 November 2018.
“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 a very popular meeting and fishing place that has linked the Ōnehunga 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 the bridge 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.
“We are 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 Ōnehunga 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-time. 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.”
The Transport Agency is also keen to hear from the community about good alternative fishing spots in the area that it could promote.
Construction on the new bridge will start next year which will including 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.”
The new bridge will be at least eight metres wide – and up to 12 metres 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 walk overs and monthly water inspections, in addition to real time monitoring to assess the bridge 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.
For more information please visit our website: www.nzta.govt.nz/omb