Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has successfully completed the complex overnight repair to temporarily fix the damaged strut on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, with work now underway to open an additional two lanes to traffic early this morning.
A third southbound lane opened just after 7.00am. Work is under way to open a third northbound lane shortly.
The lower half of the strut has been replaced with a section of freshly fabricated steel.
The temporary fix is in place after extensive efforts by specialist bridge engineers and fabricators who have been assessing the damage, designing the new strut, calculating and planning the repair, and manufacturing the steel strut.
“We had perfect weather conditions on the Harbour Bridge overnight and so progress was much faster than we had hoped. There was very little wind, good temperatures and visibility which meant the team were able to get the new section installed and carry out the testing all in one night,” says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency General Manager Transport Services, Brett Gliddon.
“This temporary repair allows two extra lanes (one northbound lane and one southbound lane) on the centre span of the bridge to open to traffic. The two outer clip-on lanes are also open, which means three lanes in each direction.”
“While this is really good news, even with the temporary strut now in place the bridge is still in a more compromised state than usual and loads on the bridge will need to be managed carefully. This will remain until the permanent solution is in place and the bridge can support its full weight capacity again.”
Waka Kotahi is now working on a permanent repair of the damage to eventually re-open all lanes on the Harbour Bridge, however this work will take some time and is still weeks away from installation.
During the overnight repair, all southbound lanes of the Auckland Harbour Bridge into the city centre were closed overnight to allow bridge engineers to take out the damaged piece of steel and install the new section of the bridge strut.
The 22.7m truss, weighing about four tonnes was damaged on Friday when a truck crashed into it after being hit by 127kph wind gusts.
Before re-opening the extra lanes in the centre span, the team completed extensive testing on the bridge, including real life testing with heavy vehicles, to ensure it is performing to the necessary design specifications and requirements.
No overweight vehicles are currently allowed on the Harbour Bridge and Waka Kotahi asks that heavy vehicles use the Western Ring Route as an alternative route until the permanent solution is installed.
Buses should continue to use the clip-on lanes.
“In this temporary configuration, the bridge is still not fully operational, and one lane remains closed each way. Congestion is still expected on all state highways and local roads and we continue to encourage people to consider working from home if possible. For those who must travel, we recommend leaving your cars at home and using public transport. There is still lots of space and capacity on buses and ferries, in particular the Northern Express routes from the North Shore. For customers who need to travel by car, plan ahead, check the journey planner apps and use the Western Ring Route via SH16 and SH18 as an alternative to SH1 and the bridge.”
The bus priority lane that has been in place for the past two days at the Fanshawe Street on-ramp has been relocated to the left of the on-ramp to help provide more reliable travel for people on buses. This means that Curran Street northbound on-ramp can re-open to traffic.
“Progress is also continuing on the permanent solution. The bulk of this work involves the calculation and peer review of the new permanent strut in relation to how it will impact on the performance of the whole bridge. This includes careful calculations on how to re-balance its load-bearing function.
The new modelling is necessary because the materials of the new structure will not exactly match those that were installed 60 years ago.
Waka Kotahi would like to thank all staff, contractors and suppliers involved so far for their dedication to the recovery of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.