The NZ Transport Agency says it has successfully completed the shift of the large lifting gantry on the Newmarket Viaduct on Auckland's Southern Motorway (State Highway 1) - an operation that has required the full closure of the motorway's northbound lanes.
The two-and-a-half hour operation to "slide" the 700 tonne gantry from the new northbound viaduct across to the existing northbound structure was completed at four o'clock this morning.
"Shifting such a large piece of machinery was a challenging operation and the teams involved in that operation have done a superb job," says the NZTA's acting State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton.
Teams are now working to switch motorway lanes on to the new viaduct.
The motorway closure operates from the Market Road off-ramp to the Gillies Avenue on-ramp - one of the busiest sections of the Auckland motorway network. The closure, which began at 5pm yesterday (Saturday, 28 January) will be lifted no later than 8am tomorrow (Monday) after work to switch the motorway lanes is completed.
An average of 65,000 vehicles use the closed section of motorway on Sunday. The NZTA says congestion on detour routes will be heavy and people face long delays as traffic builds up during the day.
"Our best advice to drivers is to stay away from the motorway and travel only if you have to," Mr Mutton says. "We really appreciate the support we are getting from drivers and we are committed to getting the job done at Newmarket as quickly as possible so that we can open the new viaduct for Aucklanders."
The soutbound lanes of the Southern Motorway are not affected by the closure.
The lifting gantry, which has been used to help construct both the new southbound and northbound viaducts at Newmarket, will now help remove the existing northbound viaduct. This work is due to be completed by next spring.