Whangarei needed another river crossing to alleviate rush hour traffic problems. It was interesting watching it take shape. In the beginning there were just a few heavy machines. The bridge connects the industrial side of town with the airport. Because the bridge is downstream from the marina, a lifting mechanism was needed to allow the bridge to be lifted when boats need to pass under it. We heard there would be fishhook shaped counterweights, the idea of British architect, Martin Knightt. Mr Knight said that when he was looking into aspects of this place that were really important, the relationship with the coast and the river and the cultural history, the fishhook motif came up quite frequently.
The bridge crept out from either side of the river. This is the side from which I watched progress.
It's called Te Matau ā Pohe, or "The Fishhook of Pohe", and once you see it, it's easy to understand how it got its name. Wiremu Pohe is said to be the Maori ancestor who took care of the first European settlers to make Whangarei their home. It was officially open on 27 July, 2013. It is not raised between 7.15 am to 8.45 am and 4 pm to 5.30 pm. At other times skippers of boats over 6.5 metres in height phone or radio a request for the bridge to be raised.
It has not been all plain sailing. The warmth of summer had an impact - the steel bascule expands more than expected once it gets over 26C, meaning the bridge could jam if the temperature is too high. For a while the District Council would not lift the bridge if the air temperature (measured at the nearby Whangarei Airport) reached 26C, meaning boaties had to contact the bridge control if they wanted to negotiate a suitable time to enter or leave the harbour.
It's the first bridge of its type that's ever been built so I guess teething problems are to be expected. I think they have sorted the problem now. Or maybe we will have to wait till next summer to know for sure.
The Friday My Town Shoot Out topic this week is show us construction and the architecture in your town. Maybe even a comparison from the old to the new. Or, give us the before and after. The contributions from the rest of the team will be here. Why not pop over and have a look. There are some terrific photographers amongst us and it's always interesting to see how things are in other parts of the world.