Source: New Zealand Transport Agency
Work to manufacture a permanent strut for the Auckland Harbour Bridge is progressing ahead of schedule, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says.
Waka Kotahi General Manager Transport Services Brett Gliddon says that all going to plan, the new 22.7 metre strut that will be a permanent load-bearing fix for the bridge will be installed overnight this Saturday, 3 October.
“This is great news for Aucklanders, but it is just the first step of a multi-staged process to repair the Auckland Harbour Bridge, with several key checks and hurdles to be completed. That means a timeframe for fully re-opening all eight lanes on the bridge is still not known,” Mr Gliddon says.
The first stage, scheduled for this weekend, will involve bridge engineers removing the temporary bridge strut and replacing it with the new permanent strut. This work is expected to take place overnight on Saturday 3 October.
To allow the first stage of work to happen to install the new bridge strut, all southbound lanes of the Auckland Harbour Bridge into the city centre are scheduled to be closed overnight from 9pm Saturday evening, and will reopen midmorning on Sunday. The Esmonde Road and Onewa Road southbound SH1 on-ramps will also be closed.
People should follow the sign-posted detour routes and allow extra time for their journey when travelling from the North Shore to the City Centre.
One southbound lane and one northbound lane over the bridge will also close from 5pm – 9pm on Saturday to prepare the site for the overnight work. Congestion is expected on the Northern Motorway (SH1) so people need to plan ahead and use the Western Ring Route as an alternative to SH1 and the bridge.
If the weather is unsettled this weekend, then the installation and southbound closure will take place on the next available fine night.
Mr Gliddon says the second and most challenging stage of work will be happening 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 to re-open with the new bridge strut in place. This jacking process is another complex procedure which will require another overnight closure.
“We’re extremely pleased with the progress to get us to this point, we know the lane closures on the harbour bridge are causing frustration and we’re working as hard as we can to reopen the bridge as soon as possible.
“While we’ve made faster than expected progress so far we still have very important steps to complete and we will not be opening the bridge to all traffic until we are confident it is safe to do so.”
Wind speeds on the bridge have now reduced from earlier today when gusts reached 98 km/h, closing all lanes over the harbour bridge were for just over an hour.
“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,” Mr Gliddon says.
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.
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 until a permanent repair can be made.
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