Heritage bridge restored to its former glory

The restoration of a precious part of Christchurch’s early history, the 130 year-old Gloucester Street Bridge in the central city, has been completed.
Today Hon. Lianne Dalziel Mayor of Christchurch declared the $3 million, 11-month repair project by the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT) finished in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the bridge.
The earthquake-damaged bridge, built in 1886, is one of a series of nineteenth century bridges over the River Avon which were erected to improve Christchurch’s transport infrastructure and to ornament the city. 
Damage from the February 22 earthquake included lateral spreading pushing the abutments inwards and causing the arches to sag and some important bolts to fail, cracked wing walls and buckling of the pavement.
Hon. Lianne Dalziel Mayor of Christchurch and Hon. Nicky Wagner, Associate Minister for Greater Chrristchurch Regeneration, punt under the historic Gloucester Street Bridge in the central city after a ceremony marking the completion of SCIRT repairs.
Lianne Dalziel Mayor of Christchurch said, “It's wonderful to have one of the city’s treasured historic bridges restored and strengthened.  
"This is an incredibly significant bridge for our city both from a heritage perspective as one of a network of historic Avon River bridges, and also from a cultural perspective it was an expression of pride and confidence that the community took in developing their city," she said at the opening ceremony.
“This ceremony marks the completion of SCIRT's last major project in the central city which is a real milestone for the rebuild," Dalziel said.
Nicky Wagner, Associate Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, said that the completion of repairs to the Gloucester Street Bridge was another red-letter day for the regeneration of central Christchurch.
“The opening of this bridge comes hot on the heels of several brand new offices and shops opening their doors, bringing thousands of workers and economic activity back to the central city.
“These people need bridges and roads, 83 per cent of which has been paid for by the Crown to underline its commitment to the successful regeneration of New Zealand’s second largest city.”
The bridge, near the new Convention Centre site, has been strengthened so it can carry normal heavy vehicles and is also more resilient to earthquakes. Its heritage cast iron features have been repaired and refurbished.
SCIRT Executive General Manager Ian Campbell saids, “The repair has been cleverly designed so that the bridge does not look any different than it did before and its heritage elements remain the striking feature. The skeleton of the bridge has been strengthened with the addition of eight new steel beams which are hidden underneath a new reinforced concrete deck.”
“SCIRT is proud of the great job by its Fletcher delivery team restoring this historic asset for the people of Christchurch.”
SCIRT Executive General Manager Ian Campbell at the ceremony marking the completion of SCIRT's repair of the 130 year-old Gloucester Street Bridge in the central city.
Key facts 
Gloucester Street Bridge was built in 1886 by the Christchurch City Council.
It replaced a suspension footbridge built in 1862.
It is one of series of historic central city bridges over the Avon River built from 1864 to 1902 to improve the city’s transport infrastructure and to ornament the city.
The bridge was constructed of cast iron. 
It was widened in 1936-37 with the main heritage elements retained. 
The SCIRT project repaired and refurbished the heritage elements, the original cast iron girders and cast iron balustrades, so the bridge retains its character.
It strengthened the bridge to carry normal heavy  vehicles and to increase its resilience to any future earthquakes.
Eight new steel beams and a new reinforced concrete deck have been installed.
It has an Historic Places Category 2 listing by Heritage New Zealand.
It is the last of more than 100 bridges repairs carried out by SCIRT over its five and a half year construction programme.
Published: 21 December 2016