Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is urging Auckland motorists to plan ahead and allow plenty of time for journeys between the city centre and North Shore today with continued wind gusts forecast.
"MetService forecasts more strong, cold south-westerly winds picking up in strength for a time this afternoon so further lane closures may be required. More settled weather is expected for the rest of the week,” says Waka Kotahi Senior Journey Manager Neil Walker.
Closures due to high winds this morning caused heavy congestion on both state highways and local roads this morning. A squally cold front crossed over the Auckland Harbour Bridge just before 7am this morning, with peak gusts of 98 km/h observed.
All lanes over the harbour bridge were closed for just over an hour. Three lanes in both directions reopened and congestion has now eased on SH1.
“We understand the disruption closing the bridge causes, and these decisions are not taken lightly. Safety is Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s top priority, and we will not take any chances with the bridge due to the current damage to the superstructure.
“Ongoing wind gusts have been a concern since the weekend and Waka Kotahi’s bridge team has been continually measuring wind levels. It is vital we protect this critical piece of infrastructure for the medium and long term. If another incident were to occur because of high winds the bridge could be damaged even more which would cause longer term disruption,” Mr Walker says.
The bridge and the clip-on lanes are safe to use, however since the superstructure was damaged due to high winds on 18 September, the bridge will remain compromised for some weeks until a permanent repair can be made.
Waka Kotahi recommends customers use public transport where possible, allow plenty of extra time for their journeys and check the journey time tool before travelling, and check the NZTA social media pages for real-time updates. Ferries and trains are operating and single decker buses are allowed to cross the bridge.
People are urged to work from home if possible, and avoid any unnecessary travel. The Western Ring Route is currently working well as an alternative route to the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Waka Kotahi continues to urge motorcyclists and drivers of high-sided vehicles to avoid using the bridge until high winds in the region abate.
Work is progressing well on fabricating a 22.7 metre strut that will be a permanent load-bearing fix for the bridge, however it could be weeks before the bridge is restored to full operation with 8-lanes open to traffic.
The full repair of the Auckland Harbour Bridge is a multi-staged process and will be done over a number of weeks. Firstly, bridge engineers will remove the temporary bridge strut and replace it with the new permanent strut.
The most challenging work is being undertaken in parallel 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 re-open with the new bridge strut in place.
“There is a lot of work happening behind the scenes and Waka Kotahi is focussed on doing everything possible to fully repair the Auckland Harbour Bridge and re-open all lanes to customers as quickly as possible,” Mr Walker says.
The YouTube video below provides a progress update on the design of the permanent bridge fix.
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