Trucks are to be banned from two lanes of the Auckland Harbour
Bridge to try to make the structure last longer.
Transit New Zealand says the number of trucks and their weight is causing the outside lanes to break-up so something has to be done.
They are known as the nippon clip-ons - an extra four lanes were added to the bridge in 1969 to cope with the traffic.
Forty years on, the bridge is feeling the pressure. Ten thousand trucks cross the bridge every day and Transit is banning them from driving in the outside lanes of the clip-ons to try to keep the bridge in good condition.
"We've been noticing what one could describe as fine hairline
cracks occurring in isolated areas in part of the clip-ons we
attribute that to a high proportion of heavies travelling in the
outer lanes," says Peter Spies, Transit regional manager.
Any vehicle over 4.5 tonnes will be restricted to the six inner lanes and the trucking industry is happy with that.
Chris Carr of the Road Transport Association says Transit has
been talking to them for some time about the issue.
"And we don't have any difficulty moving trucks inwards to help
make the bridge last longer because it's such a critical part of
infrastructure in Auckland," he says.
The bridge opened in 1959 with four million vehicles crossing it in its first year. With growth on the North Shore, the clip-ons were added 10 years later, with 60 million vehicles now crossing it every year.
And it's this volume of traffic which has Transit looking at
other harbour crossing options.
"The opportunity to either put another bridge across here of perhaps to put a tunnel across, engineering wise those are solutions that are possible and practicable," says Spies.
But this time it will take more than a couple of clip-ons to solve Auckland's traffic woes.
Once the relevant bylaw is amended, police will enforce the ban.