Auckland motorists are set to face delays for "several days and potentially up to several weeks" after damage to the Auckland Harbour Bridge following today's truck crash.
A southbound truck carrying a shipping container was blown sideways this morning by a wind gust of up to 127km/h.
"The truck striking the bridge has damaged the superstructure, with a steel upright sheared off," says Waka Kotahi Senior Journey Manager, Neil Walker.
"Our first assessment of the structural damage is that a permanent fix will be a long term process and the four lanes across the centre span of the bridge will remain closed to traffic for at least several days and potentially weeks."
"Congestion on the road network is inevitable as we assess the damage and the necessary repairs. Waka Kotahi recommends customers consider working from home and if they do need to travel into and out of the CBD they consider alternative travel options, such as taking public transport, including the Northern Busway which is not affected."
NZTA said: "If you do need to travel motorists are urged to use the Western Ring Route (SH20, SH16 and SH18) around the harbour.
The Western Ring Route has been planned and constructed to be used as an alternative to the Harbour Bridge, especially for trucks and heavy vehicles".
On average, more than 170,000 vehicles cross the Auckland Harbour Bridge on weekdays, with the configuration of the eight lanes changed four times a day to adjust to peak time traffic flows. With the four centre span lanes closed and only the clips ons open, there will be just two lanes in each direction.
The north and southbound clip on lanes are safe to use as they have their own supporting structure. The clip ons remain open today, but traffic is backed up and long delays are expected.
Walker said the NZ Transport Agency "understands this will cause inconvenience and disruption of and thanks motorists for their patience. We're working to ensure the bridge can be back in operation as quickly."
Earlier, NZTA Auckland system manager Andrea Williamson said that just after 11am the wind was gusting at just over 60km/h, but suddenly picked up to blow for several minutes at up to 127km/h.
"A medium-sized truck travelling in lane 3 northbound was hit by a strong gust of wind and blown across two lanes. It toppled over the moveable lane barrier and is now stuck on the barrier. The driver was not injured."
The truck was from courier company Castles Parcles.
"At the same time a southbound truck carrying a shipping container was blown sideways and hit the bridge superstructure," Williamson said.
"The truck righted itself and carried on.
"There is damage to the bridge overarch, with a steel upright sheared off.