29 May 2009

Auckland harbour bridge turns 50

9:49 am on 29 May 2009

The Auckland harbour bridge is turning 50. It officially opened on 30 May 1959 and has now carried more than a billion vehicles.

On its first day, 11,205 vehicles travelled across the Waitemata harbour - each paying the 25 cents toll.

By 1984, the tolls were gone and the 1.2km structure now carries up to 200,000 vehicles per day.

It took a team of 1000 people four years to build the bridge at a cost of 7.5 million pounds - $24 million in 2009 terms.

There are actually three bridges across the harbour. Due to explosive growth on the North Shore, the original harbour bridge became too small after only 10 years.

Boxed girders dubbed the "Nippon clip-ons" were installed on the outside in the late 1960s doubling the lanes from four to eight.

A memorial service will be held at Stokes Point on Friday in memory of three men who died during the bridge's construction.