Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says two extra lanes - one in each direction - could re-open by the end of the week on the damaged Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Ardern said current plans show a temporary fix could be installed from tomorrow night.
“This is a complex undertaking and it’s never been done before,” she said.
“So, the bridge team must do extensive testing before opening it up to live traffic.”
She said once the temporary fix is in place, modelling, then real-life testing will be undertaken with heavy vehicles to ensure it’s safe for general traffic.
After testing, a final decision would be made to see if two additional lanes could be opened to traffic by “later this week”, Ardern said.
Southbound lanes to the CBD will be shut as the temporary fix is installed.
Ardern said a permanent fix was still “weeks away from installation”.
She assured there was no risk to the overall safety of the bridge.
When 1 NEWS asked Ardern whether more planning should have occurred given the bridge was crucial to travel in Auckland, she said the incident happened in a “matter of seconds” and was a “freak event” that was a “one-in-50-year event”.
When asked to comment about National’s proposal to build a second Harbour crossing, she said: “That’s a multi-billion dollar project which, in most people’s calculations, is at least a decade away.”
It wouldn't make a difference to the current issue, Ardern said.
Two trucks were blown over by high winds while crossing the harbour on Friday morning, one of which hit and bent a load-bearing strut that forced the closure of four of the bridge’s middle lanes.
Commuters faced lengthy delays during rush hour this morning. Some North Shore residents faced hours-long commutes to work, with lines to the bridge stretching back about three kilometres to the on-ramps from suburbs around the bridge.
At midday, traffic had eased slightly heading in from the North Shore to the CBD. But there was still some delay as commuters had to merge from three lanes to the two clip-on lanes on the bridge open in each direction.
NZTA and Auckland Transport are implementing a bus priority system before rush hour this afternoon to give commuters faster journeys via public transport.
Despite the delays to motorists, NZTA general manager transport services Brett Gliddon said Aucklanders had heeded advice to take the Western Ring Route or work from home.
Traffic volume data showed nearly 11,000 vehicles from the North Shore headed south from 6am to 10am today. This is 60 per cent less than the same time last week.
Meanwhile, there was a 30 per cent reduction to northbound traffic, which totalled to about 11,500.
On State Highway 18 on the Western Ring Route, there was a 53 per cent increase in the number of cars travelling south, while northbound traffic saw a 14 per cent increase.