Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Unsafe Victoria Wharf shut

Popular fishing spot on Devonport shore closed for $6 million repair job

The wharf next to the ferry terminal is closed. Picture / Steven McNicholl
The wharf next to the ferry terminal is closed. Picture / Steven McNicholl

One of the most popular fishing and sight-seeing spots on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour has been closed because it is not safe for people to use.

Auckland Council said the structure of the uncovered Victoria Wharf at Devonport had shown a steady decline in the last year, and it would not reopen until a $6 million repair job was completed.

It might not be used again until late summer 2014, said Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman Chris Darby.

Mr Darby said the wharf was prized for fishing and whitebaiting but Devonport had other good spots - Torpedo Wharf, Stanley Pt Wharf and the breakwater at Bayswater Marina.

Fullers Ferries said Devonport services were not affected because they operated through the covered Devonport Wharf. But ferry commuters' bike and scooter parking areas will have to be rearranged.

Unsound parts of the 1929 reinforced concrete structure have been under watch since 2008 when parking on the wharf was banned.

For most of last summer, pedestrian access to the safe parts was restricted until a timber deck was laid over cracked concrete to spread the load.

Engineers' latest check of the structure showed deterioration of piles, beams and decking over the past 12 months.

"The acceleration of deterioration is a surprise and decline has reached a tipping point due to the cumulative effects over the years," said Mr Darby.

The closure was ordered on Wednesday, one day after engineering consultants GHD recommended it.

"You can't ignore those technical experts and public safety is our priority and council took immediate action," said Mr Darby.

Engineers found a hefty slab of concrete had fallen off a rusted beam and would have crushed anyone below the wharf.

"I wouldn't go anywhere near the wharf in a kayak," he said.

The board allocated $6 million for the project this financial year.

The council aims to appoint a building contractor early next year for the repair and renewal project which could take a year to 18 months.

Victoria Wharf

1929: Built in the days of car ferries and cargo ships.

December 2008: Vehicles banned.

February 2009: North Shore City Council told if repairs not done the wharf will have to be removed.

August 2011: Consultant engineers' check raises further concerns.

December 2011: Much of wharf is closed to holiday crowds while its strength is estimated.

March 2012: Wooden deck installed over cracked concrete and "safe areas" reopened.

September 19, 2012: Total closure after engineers found "significant advancement in deterioration".

- NZ Herald

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