A truck driver was in shock when his vehicle was nearly blown over on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, his boss says.
Two trucks crashed near the centre of the bridge in quick succession yesterday morning when winds gusted up to 127km/h.
Video footage taken by a motorist shows a NZ Van Lines truck carrying a shipping container being pushed onto the barrier on the outside of the centre southbound lanes of the bridge. It tips onto two wheels and leans precariously against the steel upright strut.
The company's operations manager Randall Kumitau said three people in the truck at the time.
"They are totally fine, but a bit shaken up about what happened," he said.
"They don't really even remember it, it was so sudden. The driver was in shock, even when police arrived."
Police were interviewing the driver today. They were also inspecting the truck, which was undamaged in the crash. It was able to be righted and driven away yesterday.
Kumitau said the driver crossed the bridge two or three times a day, and had just been returning from a delivery on the North Shore. The truck was empty, which would have made it easier to tip over, he said.
Another truck heading north was also caught in the wind gusts. The Castle Parcels truck was blown across two lanes of traffic before toppling onto a movable barrier and getting stuck. The driver was taken to hospital but was not badly injured.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said the bridge's superstructure had been damaged. A steel upright completely sheared off, and engineers have warned that it could take weeks to repair the bridge.
"We're not too happy about it," Kumitau said. "But it was freak accident. It happened very quickly."
The four inner lanes of the bridge remain closed today, causing congestion in both directions.
Waka Kotahi senior journey manager Neil Walker said the damage caused by the crashes was significant.
"Overnight investigations revealed the impact has damaged a load-bearing upright strut of the bridge overarch."
"The upright strut is fixed to the bridge top and bottom with a series of bolts. These bolts have sheared off and left the strut detached at the bottom. The strut is bent and twisted at the point it was hit."
The damaged strut helped support the bridge's weight, Walker said. However, there was no risk to the structural integrity or the overall safety of the bridge.
Engineers were now assessing whether to replace or repair the strut, while also checking whether other struts have been damaged because of the additional load transferred to them. The damaged strut has been temporarily bolted back on to the bridge.
The crash and lane closures they caused brought traffic to a standstill around Auckland. The chaos a single crash caused to the transport network has been seized on by the National Party, which said it highlighted the need for a second harbour crossing.