‘Goliath’ 85 tonne giant air bridge to be erected over Hobson St tomorrow

Fletcher Construction will this weekend erect New Zealand’s heaviest pedestrian air bridge over a busy Auckland inner-city thoroughfare, taking advantage of the break and lighter traffic movements.

The 85-tonne 30m-long bridge will be suspended 11m above Hobson St, the company said.

The amount of steel and glass in the bridge has meant it was known to insiders as Goliath.

The fully-covered walkway will link two SkyCity Entertainment Group properties for the first time: the existing casino/hotel building between Federal St and Hobson St and the new 303-room Horizon Hotel to the waterfront end of the NZ International Convention Centre, between Hobson St and Nelson St.

Grant Beckett, convention centre project director, said the installation marked progress in the rebuild following last October’s fire.

“While we’ve been working away behind the scenes to prepare for the convention centre re-build, the bridge installation is the first visible sign that we’re back on track to deliver this important project for New Zealand.

“It’s a positive step forward for the project, for our client SkyCity and for the dedicated team working on it and brings us a step closer to achieving a 2023 completion date,” Beckett said.

Apart from the NZICC, SkyCity is also spending $50m upgrading its Auckland buildings and will this month celebrate the opening of Flare, a new bar on its main casino floor.

Beckett said the bridge was pre-fabricated near Palmerston North.

Due to its size and weight, it could only be transported up the North Island during the night, he said.

After a three-day journey, it arrived here last month, flanked by a flotilla of pilot vehicles, Beckett said.

“It was then moved into the NZICC building, where its glass facade, other cladding elements and roofing material were added ahead of the lift. A reinforced concrete floor will be cast once the bridge is installed,” he said.

The company is making a timelapse video of the installation which it said it would make available for use.

The air bridge was due to be installed 12 months ago, around Labour Weekend 2019, but holdups with the job meant that was delayed. That proved to be somewhat good fortune in the end.

A year ago yesterday, a fire broke out at the convention centre and burned for 10 days, engaging hundreds of Fire and Emergency crews and firefighters.

Without the air bridge, no direct building connection had been made between existing SkyCity properties spanning Albert St, Federal St and Hobson St and the blazing NZICC.

The country’s biggest building repair is now underway after that fire caused $336m-plus of damage.

The repairs are being fully funded by insurers, SkyCity says, and head contractor Fletcher has been working on the cleanup throughout this year.

SkyCity, headed by Graeme Stephens, already has glass and steel air bridges spanning Federal St, a block away from its new span.

ASX-listed shopping centre owner and manager Scentre Group developed air bridges to link its Westfield Newmarket properties which it completed a $795m million upgrade earlier this year.

That pedestrian link is above Mortimer Pass and links 277 Broadway with 309 Broadway.

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