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Emergency exercise targets a vehicle fire in the Waterview Tunnel

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The NZ transport Agency advises media organisations that it’s holding an emergency response exercise tonight in the Waterview Tunnel.

Exercise Glass involves fire and police emergency services, tunnel incident response teams and operations managers and will take place instead of a regular monthly maintenance closure. The tunnel will be closed in both directions, says the Transport Agency’s System Manager Steve Mutton.

“It’s important to note there has not been a vehicle crash in the Waterview Tunnel since it opened in July last year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen. We have to be ready to deal with it if and when it does happen,” says Mr Mutton.

“We place a very high premium on the safety of road users in the daily operation of the tunnel, so this is a critical exercise to ensure we have systems in place that work quickly, accurately and effectively.”

Exercise Glass will involve a crash in the tunnel involving three passenger vehicles, resulting in a fire. The exercise will assess the tunnel’s emergency response plan, the alerting and activation of emergency services and the readiness and capability of the tunnel operations staff.

The incident is intended to be a “cold start” with only limited personnel knowing in advance about the exercise and its scenario, says Mr Mutton.

The tunnel will be closed from 9pm. Exercise Glass will start at 11:30pm and last about an hour. It’s expected the tunnel will be reopen to traffic around 3am. Traffic will use the signposted detour route.

The exercise is not open to media.

The twin tunnels in the Waterview Connection are a key part of the Western Ring route, a 48km motorway route through the west of Auckland, connecting Manukau, the city, West Auckland and the North Shore. The 2.4km Waterview Connection between Point Chevalier and Mt Roskill opened in July 2017 and is used by more than 60,000 vehicles a day or just under 2 million vehicles a month. It cost $1.4bn to build.

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