Concrete walls will remain on the bridge

Heritage NZ defends importance of original look

Heritage NZ defends importance of original look

The 1925 concrete bridge does not give a view of the rivers.
MAKING IT SAFE: Gisborne Scaffolding’s Kimo Ngata, Rob Waihape and Merric Hawea erect scaffolding on the side of the Gladstone Road Bridge as part of the work to add a clip-on to the bridge to make a shared path for safer walking and cycling. It is expected to be finished by the end of December. Picture by Liam Clayton
Gladstone Road bridge scaffolding - (Gisborne Scaffolding) Kimo Ngata, Rob Waihape, Merric Hawea

Renewed calls for removal of the concrete sides on the Gladstone Road Bridge appear to have hit a brick wall.

The Herald has several calls, letters and comments suggesting the sides be removed and replaced with steel railings to open up the view from the bridge.

“We have a one-time opportunity to expose and highlight our wonderful walkways, harbour and river vistas by replacing the concrete walls with vertical safety rails, which would also be in keeping with the Peel Street and Rutene Rd bridges,” one letter writer said.

“The Three Rivers confluence and the shortest river in the Southern Hemisphere, the Turanganui River, are sought-after tourist attractions, yet visitors have trouble seeing them.”

The fact the Peel Street Bridge and the Gladstone Road Bridge both have the same historic status with Heritage NZ was also noted.

“With due respect to the Heritage Trust, once the original wall has gone, it’s gone. Now is the time to act, with a view to the future, at little or no extra cost.”

The Peel Street Bridge was changed from concrete to steel safety rails in 1977, which lightened the bridge.

Heritage New Zealand’s lower northern area manager Ben Pick said there was no record of Heritage New Zealand, or the Historic Places Trust as it was then, being consulted regarding the proposal to replace the concrete barriers of the Peel Street bridge with steel railing in 1977.

“At that time, neither the Peel Street Bridge nor the Gladstone Road Bridge had been registered, so there was no formal recognition of their heritage significance. Both bridges were registered in 1984.”

When built, the Gladstone Road reinforced concrete bridge was heralded as advanced technology and the sign of a progressive town by civic leaders. It provided an important link on State Highway 35, from Gisborne through the district’s coastal towns and settlements.

“The bridge was opened on March 26, 1925, and replaced a wooden bridge built in 1885.

“As reported in the Gisborne Times, the mayor said ‘the new bridge was as good a structure as could be found in the Dominion’, and he was glad that Gisborne had been one of the first towns to realise that ferro-concrete structures were the best. Auckland had led the way with the Grafton bridge.

“It is a significant example of reinforced concrete bridges, which began to be built in New Zealand in substantial numbers in the early 20th century. It is important that the upgrade of the concrete sides is in keeping with the original materials and design of the bridge.”

Mr Pick said it should be noted the Gladstone Road bridge is the only one of the three city bridges that has not been substantially altered.

“This is another reason for the upgrade of the bridge to be in keeping with the original materials and design.”

Tairawhiti Roads acting general manager Helen Harris said the NZ Transport Agency had been working closely with Heritage NZ — “to ensure that we balance the need to recognise the heritage status of the bridge with the need to ensure that we develop a high-quality shared path for safer walking and cycling.”

Preliminary work has started on a new concrete pathway on the downstream side of the bridge. At the end of November last year, Gisborne District Council’s assets and infrastructure committee approved the clip-on bridge as part of the urban cycleway project.

The full cost of the $1.5 million project will be met by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Construction is expected to be completed and the pathway open to the public by the end of December.

Renewed calls for removal of the concrete sides on the Gladstone Road Bridge appear to have hit a brick wall.

The Herald has several calls, letters and comments suggesting the sides be removed and replaced with steel railings to open up the view from the bridge.

“We have a one-time opportunity to expose and highlight our wonderful walkways, harbour and river vistas by replacing the concrete walls with vertical safety rails, which would also be in keeping with the Peel Street and Rutene Rd bridges,” one letter writer said.

“The Three Rivers confluence and the shortest river in the Southern Hemisphere, the Turanganui River, are sought-after tourist attractions, yet visitors have trouble seeing them.”

The fact the Peel Street Bridge and the Gladstone Road Bridge both have the same historic status with Heritage NZ was also noted.

“With due respect to the Heritage Trust, once the original wall has gone, it’s gone. Now is the time to act, with a view to the future, at little or no extra cost.”

The Peel Street Bridge was changed from concrete to steel safety rails in 1977, which lightened the bridge.

Heritage New Zealand’s lower northern area manager Ben Pick said there was no record of Heritage New Zealand, or the Historic Places Trust as it was then, being consulted regarding the proposal to replace the concrete barriers of the Peel Street bridge with steel railing in 1977.

“At that time, neither the Peel Street Bridge nor the Gladstone Road Bridge had been registered, so there was no formal recognition of their heritage significance. Both bridges were registered in 1984.”

When built, the Gladstone Road reinforced concrete bridge was heralded as advanced technology and the sign of a progressive town by civic leaders. It provided an important link on State Highway 35, from Gisborne through the district’s coastal towns and settlements.

“The bridge was opened on March 26, 1925, and replaced a wooden bridge built in 1885.

“As reported in the Gisborne Times, the mayor said ‘the new bridge was as good a structure as could be found in the Dominion’, and he was glad that Gisborne had been one of the first towns to realise that ferro-concrete structures were the best. Auckland had led the way with the Grafton bridge.

“It is a significant example of reinforced concrete bridges, which began to be built in New Zealand in substantial numbers in the early 20th century. It is important that the upgrade of the concrete sides is in keeping with the original materials and design of the bridge.”

Mr Pick said it should be noted the Gladstone Road bridge is the only one of the three city bridges that has not been substantially altered.

“This is another reason for the upgrade of the bridge to be in keeping with the original materials and design.”

Tairawhiti Roads acting general manager Helen Harris said the NZ Transport Agency had been working closely with Heritage NZ — “to ensure that we balance the need to recognise the heritage status of the bridge with the need to ensure that we develop a high-quality shared path for safer walking and cycling.”

Preliminary work has started on a new concrete pathway on the downstream side of the bridge. At the end of November last year, Gisborne District Council’s assets and infrastructure committee approved the clip-on bridge as part of the urban cycleway project.

The full cost of the $1.5 million project will be met by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Construction is expected to be completed and the pathway open to the public by the end of December.

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T and B Brown - 11 days ago
The decision by Heritage NZ to reinstate the 1925 ferro-concrete bridge wall with a 2018 concrete version is disappointing and lacks credibility.
To deprive the local people of their rightful river vistas because of an officious view, and have someone else presume they know what's best for us, is insulting.
It bears pointing out that the majority of the bridge will still be comprised of the 1925 ferro-concrete, and the accompanying plaque should be retained.
A compromise with some common sense is all that is being asked for.
This decision needs revisiting please.

S. Donald - 8 days ago
After adding the walkway / cycleway the Gladstone Road bridge will no longer be the same structure as that which was opened in 1925. Let's take the example shown in the recent War Memorial Theatre renovations, which has kept an auditorium almost unmodified, but the facilities provided and the new foyer area are greatly improved - a good marriage of old and new. I was around when the Peel Street bridge was opened up in 1977; not only did this reduce the weight but it opened up vistas up and downstream which make the Taruheru River much more closely integrated into the CBD.
I agree with recent letters by T.and B.Brown

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