Auckland Harbour Bridge damage: ‘You can’t build your way out of it forever’

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It’s still not known how long the Auckland Harbour Bridge will be partially closed to traffic, says NZTA’s senior journey manager.

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Photo: NZTA

On Friday, strong wind gusts forced a truck to shear off a key part of the bridge, and lane closures have been causing traffic problems since then.

Nine engineers are assessing the bridge today but it’s still not known when the two centre lanes will be able to reopen.

NZTA senior journey manager Neil Walker told Sunday Morning nothing more will really be known until the end of today when the engineers can report back.

“There’s two focuses for them at the moment. One is what can we do to get it open, to carry some traffic while we get a permanent fix in place so that’s the second objective for them really – they have to do that in parallel.

“We do know that the permanent fix is going to take a while.”

A temporary fix would only be able to hold light traffic, he said.

Walker said the challenge is how the team makes use of the existing 22 metre strut.

“The strut itself is a load-bearing strut so it needs to be re-tensioned, so there’s quite a bit of design work involved.

“If we’re going to have to fabricate a new one…it’s making sure that we’ve got the right material to do it.”

A new strut would also have to be treated as it is exposed to salt air on the bridge.

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Photo: Supplied / NZTA

The network is one that doesn’t handle events like this well, Walker said.

“You can’t build your way of of it forever and we’re going to have to think smarter about how we try and manage demand on the roads, so that’s greater use of the likes of public transport and that sort of thing, particularly around the peak times.”

Walker says he’s been told it was a rouge gust yesterday that was unexpected but a review surrounding the incident will take place.

Motorists are being urged to change their usual travel plans to avoid significant disruption caused by the closure of four lanes of the bridge.

Buses will still be able to travel over the clip-ons but delays are expected, Walker said.

An Auckland business representative says the truck crash highlights the vulnerability of the city’s infrastructure.

Auckland Business Chamber’s chief executive Michael Barnett said another harbour crossing has been desperately needed for years and the crash shows it is time for action.

Barnett said the major disruption to commerce and commuters is the last thing the city needs when it is trying to bounce back from the Covid lockdown.

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