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Engineeers assess damage to Auckland Harbour Bridge after truck strike

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is urging motorists to adjust their travel plans and usual patterns to avoid significant disruption caused by the closure of four lanes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Congestion remains heavy on both the Auckland Harbour Bridge, surrounding state highways and local roads following yesterday’s incident where two trucks were blown over causing significant damage to the bridge.

Waka Kotahi is focussed on doing everything possible to re-open the centre lanes of the Harbour Bridge as quickly as possible however they will potentially remain closed for a number of weeks.

Bridge engineers are working on options for a temporary and more permanent solution to the damage that has been caused. This work is ongoing and will take time.

"Overnight investigations revealed the impact has damaged a load-bearing upright strut of the bridge overarch" says Waka Kotahi Senior Journey Manager Neil Walker.

"The upright strut is fixed to the bridge top and bottom with a series of bolts. These bolts have sheared off and left the strut detached at the bottom. The strut is bent and twisted at the point it was hit."

The damaged strut is important to the structure of the bridge as it helps support its weight. Bridge engineers are assessing how to repair or replace the strut, while also checking if other struts were damaged, given they’ve had additional load transferred to them. The sheared end of the damaged strut has been temporarily bolted back on to the bridge.

Repair work may not be visible on the bridge deck and will involve manufacturing the bridge parts off-site.

While the damaged component of the structure is important, there is no risk to the structural integrity or overall safety of the Harbour Bridge.

All four centre lanes remain closed and customers are urged to avoid unnecessary travel and use the Western Ring Route via SH16, SH18 and SH20 as an alternative to the Harbour Bridge. While the Western Ring Route was carefully planned and constructed to be used as an alternative to the Harbour Bridge, especially for trucks and heavy vehicles, it will now also experience congestion and delays with the additional traffic volumes that would have been on the Harbour Bridge.

That means people who do have to travel should allow plenty of time for their journeys on both routes. Waka Kotahi recommends customers consider working from home where possible from Monday. If they do need to travel into and out of the CBD, they consider alternative travel options, such as taking public transport.

The Northern Busway will be operating and buses are safe to use the clip on lanes, however buses will be delayed as they join the queues to cross the bridge, so passengers should plan ahead and allow extra time for their journey.

Yesterday, a truck carrying a shipping container was blown sideways by sudden wind gusts up to 127 kph and hit the bridge superstructure. The truck righted itself and carried on. At about the same time, a northbound truck was blown by wind gusts across two lanes and toppled over the moveable lane barrier and became stuck.

The north and southbound clip-on lanes remain open and are safe to use as they have their own supporting structure, however traffic is still backed up and long delays are expected throughout the weekend and into next week.

"We understand the economic significance of the Auckland Harbour Bridge to help support the movement of people and freight within the region and throughout the rest of New Zealand".

On average, more than 170,000 vehicles cross the Auckland Harbour Bridge on weekdays, with the configuration of the eight lanes changed four times a day to adjust to peak time traffic flows.

Waka Kotahi understands the inconvenience and disruption the closure of lanes is having on motorists and thanks them for their ongoing patience. We’re working to ensure the bridge can be back in operation as quickly as possible.

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