There are a lot of bridges in the world. They are quite handy inventions for crossing water or chasms. Auckland Harbour Bridge has a history of its own I can now relate after enjoying the Harbour Bridge Climb.
Originally desired in 1860 by farmers on the North Shore of the Waitemata Harbour, the bridge was commissioned in 1954. Who says the speed of change is fast? The original design was grander and had more than the 4 lanes than were finally built…due to cost saving!
The bridge was completed in 1959 and over 100,000 people crossed it on opening day, on foot. Steel from Middlesbrough, England was used and over 1.5m rivets. 3 people lost their lives during construction and one remains interred in the concrete to this day.
Just 11 years later, in 1970, 4 extra lanes were added…proof that you should never trust anyone who is small-minded when it comes to time, foresight and cost-saving…there is good cost…and there is bad cost…these extra 4 lanes – called Nippon Clip-Ons due to the Japanese design and construction – are separate to the original bridge but appear at first glance to be an integral part to the untrained eye.
The most amazing part of the tour was seeing how the bridge actually moves. The original bridge can move up to 30cm a day. The clip-ons can move up to 90cm in a minute. All of this movement is to allow for natural expansion and contraction…plus the ability to withstand earthquakes. It is pretty freaky to see it moving from underneath…but not as freaky as the fairly small number of bolts holding the clip-ons together…I can see why they try to keep the bridge free of standing traffic. There is comfort in 1.5m rivets on the original bridge…there is less in only 48 huge bolts on the clip-ons.
Perhaps I will stick to driving on the 4 central lanes of the original bridge from now on.
The Sky Tower is apparently shorter than the width of the span on the main section.
So, there you have it…just a few of the fascinating facts…go and see something like this if you ever get chance…it is far more interesting than just taking it for granted each day…you might even fancy a bungy from underneath!