The closure of Hexham Bridge after a crane rollover caused traffic chaos across the Hunter on Wednesday as motorists tried to avoid the area.
Police responded to reports to an eight-wheeled truck rolling on the bridge at around 6.25pm on Tuesday. They arrived to find the crane had rolled on its side, blocking traffic and wedged into the bridge.
Emergency services had to wait several hours for bridge engineers to arrive and assess the incident to determine the state of the bridge before the salvage operation could begin. The bridge did not reopen to traffic until 7.30am Wednesday.
Morning commuters reported long delays of up to an hour in some places. Motorists on the Hunter Expressway and those crossing the Tourle Street Bridge reported the worst of the delays.
Several commuters ditched the car at Stockton, opting to use the ferry to get into Newcastle CBD. Parking near the Stockton ferry terminal was almost full by 10am.
UPDATE WEDNESDAY 7.30AM
All northbound lanes of Hexham Bridge have reopened after a crane rollover on Tuesday.
The northbound bridge had been closed and there were alternating traffic conditions in place on the southbound bridge.
All southbound lanes are also now open now that repairs and clean-up have been completed.
Traffic remains very heavy on all approaches to the bridge so motorists are advised to allow plenty of additional travel time.
Route 140 buses are delayed up to 60 minutes as a result of the heavy traffic.
For the latest traffic information, visit www.livetraffic.com
For the latest public transport information, visit www.transportnsw.info
Video by Media Response Newcastle.
UPDATE WEDNESDAY 6AM
Motorists are advised to avoid Hexham Bridge as salvage works continue after a crane rollover on Tuesday night. The northbound bridge is closed.
Motorists travelling south to Newcastle should use Richardson Rd from the Pacific Highway, then Nelson Bay Rd, then Stockton Bridge (Cormorant Rd).
Motorists travelling north from Newcastle should use Tourle St Bridge and Stockton Bridge (Cormorant Rd), Nelson Bay Rd, then Richardson Rd to continue north on Pacific Highway.
Motorists travelling eastbound to Newcastle are advised to use the M1 Pacific Mwy from John Renshaw Dr at Beresfield.
Emergency services and RMS remain on scene.
Stop/slow (alternating) traffic conditions have been put in place on the southbound bridge to allow motorists to pass in each direction, one direction at a time. This is suitable for all vehicles.
EARLIER REPORT TUESDAY 8PM
The northbound on-ramp to the Hexham Bridge is closed after reports of a crane rollover on Tuesday evening around 6.30pm.
Emergency services and RMS have responded to the incident where two of three northbound lanes have been closed.
Light vehicles have been diverted away from the New England Highway on-ramp and have been advised to use Old Maitland Road, south of the bridge, to turn around and access the Pacific Highway on-ramp to the bridge.
Meanwhile, heavy vehicles have been advised to detour via Millers Forest and Raymond Terrace. Follow the New England Highway to Chelmsford Road, Metford Road, Raymond Terrace Road, Seaham Road, William Bailey Street, Adelaide Street, and Richardson Road to return to the Pacific Highway.
Motorists have been advised to delay travel and to expect significant delays.
Police responded to reports to an eight-wheeled truck rolling on the bridge at around 6.25pm. They arrived to find the crane had turned on its side, blocking traffic. At around 8pm, NSW Police said emergency services were still at the scene waiting for bridge engineers to arrive and assess the incident to determine the state of the bridge and how to salvage the vehicle.
The were reports of spilled fuel spilled on the road as a result of the crash, but police said there were no reports of injuries nor that any other vehicles were involved in the crash.