Damage to Auckland Harbour Bridge could see a "significant reduction" in traffic capacity for weeks after two trucks were blown over while crossing the bridge this morning.
A southbound truck carrying a shipping container was blown sideways by sudden wind gusts up to 127 kmp/h just after 11am and hit the bridge superstructure. The truck righted itself and carried on.
“The truck striking the bridge has damaged the superstructure, with a steel upright sheared off,” says NZTA Senior Journey Manager, Neil Walker.
“Our first assessment of the structural damage is that a permanent fix will be a long term process and the four lanes across the centre span of the bridge will remain closed to traffic for at least several days and potentially weeks.
“Congestion on the road network is inevitable as we assess the damage and the necessary repairs. Waka Kotahi recommends customers consider working from home and if they do need to travel into and out of the CBD they consider alternative travel options, such as taking public transport, including the Northern Busway which is not affected,” say Walker.
NZTA is urging motorists to use the Western Ring Route (SH20, SH16 and SH18) around the harbour.
“We are looking at whether we can make a temporary repair, but we won’t know if it’s possible until we investigate further over the weekend. While part of the bridge structure has been damaged, we have no concerns about its overall integrity and safety.”
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.
With the four centre span lanes closed and only the clips ons open, there will be just two lanes in each direction.
Traffic for this evenings rush hour is extremely congested due to the lane closures.
Queues snaking nearly 13 kilometres from the bridge to Penrose means it will take commuters looking to travel north nearly an hour just to reach the Harbour Bridge.