A permanent strut to fix damage done to Auckland’s Harbour Bridge is set to be installed on Saturday night.
It comes following an incident on September 18 when four of the bridge's lanes were closed after a truck was hit by a 127km/h wind gust, damaging the strut on the bridge's arc.
A temporary strut was installed on September 23. Today the New Zealand Transport Agency announced a 22.7 metre permanent strut will be installed overnight on Saturday.
The Transport Agency has had multiple engineers working on the complex task of removing and replacing the damaged strut - an essential load-bearing part of the bridge's structure.
NZTA’s Brett Gliddon says it will be the first step in the process of repairing the bridge.
“This is great news for Aucklanders, but it is just the first step of a multi-staged process to repair the Auckland Harbour Bridge, with several key checks and hurdles to be completed. That means a timeframe for fully re-opening all eight lanes on the bridge is still not known,” Gliddon says.
To allow the first stage of work to happen to install the new bridge strut, all southbound lanes of the Auckland Harbour Bridge into the city centre are scheduled to be closed overnight from 9pm Saturday evening, and will reopen midmorning on Sunday.
The Esmonde Road and Onewa Road southbound SH1 on-ramps will also be closed.
“We’re extremely pleased with the progress to get us to this point, we know the lane closures on the harbour bridge are causing frustration and we’re working as hard as we can to reopen the bridge as soon as possible.
“While we’ve made faster than expected progress so far we still have very important steps to complete and we will not be opening the bridge to all traffic until we are confident it is safe to do so,” Giddon says.
If the weather is unsettled this weekend, then the installation and southbound closure will take place on the next available fine night.
Gliddon says the second and most challenging stage of work will be happening off-site, and involves in-depth calculations to confirm what’s required to put tension back into the bridge.
“Engineers need to reinstate the load carrying capacity of the bridge, which will involve it being jacked to the required level so tension can be re-distributed throughout the structure allowing all lanes to re-open with the new bridge strut in place," Giddon says.
"This jacking process is another complex procedure which will require another overnight closure."
Wind speeds on the bridge have now reduced from earlier today when gusts reached 98 km/h, closing all lanes over the Harbour Bridge were for just over an hour.