One of Auckland's most historic transport connections - the Old Mangere Bridge across the Manukau Harbour - is to be replaced by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and Auckland Council within the next five years.
"The bridge has been a great servant to the Auckland community for almost a century, but the time is now coming when it needs to be replaced with an alternative that is both a higher quality and safer connection for the many thousands of people who rely on it," says the NZTA's acting State Highways manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton.
The bridge - which links the communities of Onehunga and Mangere Bridge - opened 97 years ago, in 1915. It replaced a wooden, one-way structure and is believed to be the oldest reinforced concrete bridge crossing a harbour in New Zealand. With the opening of a new motorway spanning the Manukau Harbour in 1983, the Old Mangere Bridge was closed to all traffic except walkers and cyclists. It is also one of Auckland's most popular fishing locations.
"We are mindful of the bridge's role as a connection between communities and as a recreational facility enjoyed by many, and we are committed to maintaining all those amenities when the replacement is constructed," Mr Mutton says.
"We are also committed to community consultation at all stages of this project and from the onset we want people's views. Currently, we are seeking feedback to help us better understand how people use the bridge, but also to find out how they would like to use its replacement.
Mr Mutton says some broad design elements have been set to help guide the consultation process:
"The Old Mangere Bridge is a critical part of the Regional Cycling Network and we are committed to retaining that link," Mr Mutton says.
A newsletter, including feedback form, is being distributed to people living at both ends of the old bridge. You can also give your feedback online at www.nzta.govt.nz/oldmangerebridge/. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (09) 969 9800.
Community open days where people can have their say and find out more about the replacement project will be held on Saturday and Sunday - 11 and 12 August - at the Waterfront Road Reserve, Mangere Bridge, from 10am to 2pm.
Mr Mutton says when the first round of community consultation is completed, a business case for the bridge replacement will be developed. A tender to design the replacement and an application for funding to construct it will be made in 2013.
"All going well, construction will start late next year or early in 2014 and the new bridge will be completed in 2015. Appropriately, the replacement should be ready for a new generation of Aucklanders on the centenary of the opening of the Old Mangere Bridge," Mr Mutton says.