New bridge strut successfully installed and re-tensioned

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 6, 2020

The NZ Transport Agency says the installation of a new permanent strut for the Auckland Harbour Bridge to replace the one damaged two weeks ago went to plan on the weekend.

“The new strut is now in place and it‘s been tensioned up which is great progress and a significant step forward in getting the bridge operational again,” says NZTA general manager transport services Brett Gliddon.

The southbound clip-on lanes are open and bridge is operating at three lanes in each direction. This is still 75% of the full capacity.

“We are very pleased with the progress. As well as removing the temporary strut and installing the new 22.7 metre piece, the team has also re-tensioned the new strut so it‘s performing its load-bearing function in the bridge superstructure.

“While the tensioning is in place, the job is still not complete. We‘ve made good progress but we need to monitor the strut in the days ahead to see how the entire bridge is performing with the new piece in place. That will include checking our measurements off the bridge against our modelling and also having those measurements checked by our overseas per review team,” says Gliddon.

“We want to be sure there has been no other damage to the bridge while it has been under different strain, and this needs to happen before the bridge can be fully reopened.”

Gliddon says the NZTA was not going to take any risks and won‘t open all eight lanes until it is fully confident that it‘s safe to do so.

“All going well, there will be no further overnight closures and we could be able to open all lanes later in the week. We will provide more information in the days ahead so people can plan ahead and make informed travel choices.”

Motorists are advised to continue to use public transport where they can, use the Western Ring Route instead of the bridge and allow plenty of time for their journeys.

“Reinstating the strut‘s full load-bearing capacity so the bridge‘s weight distribution is returned to its pre-incident balance was always going to be the most complex and time consuming part of the process.

“The Auckland Harbour Bridge is a key strategic asset and it‘s critical we maintain its long term structural integrity by ensuring there is no lasting damage or new strain put on it.”

Gliddon says the NZTA understand how disruptive and inconvenient it is for customers with the bridge operating at 75% capacity and want to reopen all eight lanes as soon as possible.

“The freak event, where a 127kph wind gust blew a truck over and damaged a bridge strut, was unprecedented in the bridge‘s 61-year history and has resulted in a significant impact on its users and a large response effort.

“Our bridge engineers, contractors and operations teams have worked extraordinarily hard over the past two weeks to come up with a solution, while also innovating and responding in real time to keep traffic moving safely around the city.”