Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency may have to close some lanes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge this morning if wind gusts exceed 80 km/h.
Bridge managers are receiving constant reports on the wind strength from Metservice and will not hesitate to close lanes or even fully close the bridge for short periods of time if necessary for safety reasons.
“Closures may happen at very short notice. Waka Kotahi acknowledges the lane closures will cause disruption and inconvenience this morning, however safety is our top priority and the lanes closures will be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so,” says Senior Journey Manager Neil Walker.
Metservice has advised that more unsettled weather with strong wind gusts is forecast for today and tomorrow. Waka Kotahi is taking a very conservative approach to managing the bridge during this period of unsettled weather and is closely monitoring wind patterns.
Waka Kotahi reminds motorists that the Auckland Harbour Bridge is still only operating at 75% capacity with two lanes closed.
“We’re asking people are advised to avoid using the bridge if possible, travel during off peak hours, use the Western Ring Route on SH16 and SH18 or leave their vehicles at home and take public transport to reduce congestion and delays on the motorways,” Mr Walker says.
“The bridge and the clip-on lanes are safe to use, however our ability to change the lanes configuration for peak time traffic is constrained and there is a heightened risk if lanes have to close due to wind gusts. Any disruption on the bridge, even for a short time, has a swift knock on effect across the motorway network and local city streets.”
Auckland Transport will look to replace double decker buses with single decker buses for services over the bridge today as a safety precaution. There are plenty of seats on scheduled bus services from the North Shore and travelling by bus on the Northern Busway can be quicker than by car on the motorway.
Waka Kotahi’s advice to motorcyclists and drivers of high sided vehicles is to stay off the bridge and use the Western Ring Route on SH16 and SH18.
Waka Kotahi would like to recognise the ongoing support of the freight industry in using the Western Ring Road during the recovery of the bridge. No overweight or over-dimension vehicles are currently allowed on the bridge and Waka Kotahi asks that heavy vehicles use the Western Ring Route as an alternative route to help reduce congestion over the bridge until the permanent solution is installed.
The Waka Kotahi operations team and Auckland Transport are continuing to provide the latest real time travel information to help people make informed travel decisions and minimise delays for customers. Auckland Transport is monitoring and making changes on local roads and intersections to improve bus travel times.
Since the bridge superstructure was damaged due to high winds on Friday 18 September, the bridge will remain compromised for some weeks until a permanent repair can be made.
Work is under way on designing and fabricating a 22.7 metre strut that will be a permanent load-bearing fix for the bridge, however it will be weeks before the bridge is restored to full operation with 8 lanes open to traffic.
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