Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is closely watching an approaching weather front for its potential impact on the Auckland Harbour Bridge this weekend which may lead to closures.
Metservice is forecasting an active and complex low pressure system will move east across New Zealand this weekend, bringing periods of heavy rain and gale to severe gale winds to many places. The South Island and the east coast of the North Island will be most affected, with the front likely to reach Auckland on Sunday.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency General Manager Transport Services Brett Gliddon says there will be a very conservative approach to managing the bridge this weekend.
“The Auckland Harbour Bridge is safe for use despite the damage done to the superstructure last Friday. However, it is in a vulnerable state until we complete a permanent repair so we want to do all we can to protect the bridge and the people using it. Safety is our absolute priority.”
“Bridge managers receive constant reports on the wind strength from Metservice and we will not hesitate to close lanes or even close the bridge for short periods if the wind gets up too much.”
“Closures may happen at very short notice. That may cause inconvenience and disruption, but safety comes first.”
Waka Kotahi advises people, especially those on motorbikes or driving high sided vehicles, to use the Western Ring Route on SH16 and SH18 to avoid crossing the bridge. Plan your journey, allow extra time and check our online journey site for up to date information on travel times and road closures.
Auckland Transport is also taking a safety-first approach, replacing double decker buses to the North Shore with single decker buses over the weekend. Auckland Transport says weekend services are quieter so there will be plenty of seats for customers.
Last Friday, wind gusts suddenly increased without warning from 60 kph to 127kph and blew two trucks over on the bridge. One struck a load-bearing strut which has since been temporarily repaired.
“The difference this weekend is that we know that gale force winds are predicted. Last Friday was an extraordinary freak event with no warning or time to react. The gale force winds eased off as quickly as they came,” says Brett Gliddon.
This morning there is queueing at times back to Esmonde Road for southbound traffic across the bridge, but northbound traffic is flowing freely.
While the bridge is reduced to three lanes in each direction, Waka Kotahi is asking motorists to plan ahead, allow extra time and consider using the Western Ring Route via SH16 and SH18 as an alternative to SH1 and the bridge. If you are going from the North Shore or western suburbs to the airport, allow plenty of time for your journey.
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 eight lanes open to traffic.
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