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Stoush over Christchurch bridge, twisted from the quake

Saturday 2 Feb 2013 5:35 p.m.

Christchurch's famous twisted bridge, one of the symbols of the big February earthquake, will be moved because it's said to be a safety risk.

That's upset tourist operators and residents who think the Medway St Bridge should be kept as a monument. But others are happy to be rid of it.

Its twists are spectacular, demonstrating the power of the earthquake that struck Christchurch almost two-and-a-half years ago.

But time's running for people to marvel at the Medway St Bridge, which spans the Avon.

The city council has decided it's a health and safety risk and is having it removed. Not everyone's happy.

“It's really an iconic bridge in terms of the earthquake,” says bridge supporter Graeme Spinks. “It's frozen in time, bitter and twisted from the earthquake. A lot of the local residents who didn't want it are moving out.”

Mr Spinks represented New Zealand at the Olympics in judo. Now his opponent is the council, who he says is wiping away any reminders of the earthquakes. He says Christchurch has a memorial for the World Trade Centre, so why not its own earthquakes?

Tour operators agree.

“It's a must-get photo,” says tour operator Robin McCarthy. “Why would you want to take it away from here? It is an in-situ monument.”

“The two highlights we find tourists go home with are the Restart Mall and this bridge,” says tour operator Warwick Banks.

It's also ideal for TV live crosses and has been used as a meeting point for memorial services.

Some locals, though, feel removing the bridge will help them get over the earthquakes.

“Seeing the bridge in this state is a daily reminder of the devastation caused by the earthquake in this once beautiful, riverside suburb,” says Dallington resident Wendy Hawke.

The council insists it's a danger because people climb the safety fences.

So in a week, work will start to remove the bridge before it's transported to Ferrymead Historic Park, where it'll stay on dry land until a decision's finally made about its future.

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