Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is urging motorcyclists and drivers of high-sided vehicles to avoid using the Auckland Harbour Bridge until high winds in the region abate.
“Winds have been gusting up to 75km/h today, and with high winds forecast to continue until late tomorrow afternoon we are strongly advising motorcycles and high-sided vehicles to use the Western Ring Route as a safer alternative,” says Waka Kotahi Senior Journey Manager Neil Walker.
Ongoing wind gusts remain a concern today and the Waka Kotahi bridge team is continually measuring wind gusts to assess whether lanes on the bridge will close to look after the safety of drivers and the overall health of the bridge.
“Closures may happen at very short notice. Waka Kotahi acknowledges the lane closures will cause disruption and inconvenience, however safety is our top priority and the lanes closures will be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so,” Mr Walker says.
This morning saw heavy rain coming through from 2am bringing wind gusts of over 70km/h for 10 minutes before reducing down again. MetService forecasts more high wind this afternoon and tomorrow as this unsettled weather pattern moves across the country.
Lanes on the bridge will close if wind gusts reach a threshold of 80km/h or over. Waka Kotahi is taking a very conservative approach to managing the bridge during this period of unsettled weather.
Mr Walker says Waka Kotahi would like to thank motorists, public transport users and the freight industry for continuing to help ease the load on the Auckland Harbour Bridge by choosing different travel options and routes.
“Reduced traffic as a result of school holidays and altered travel plans has resulted in less congestion today compared to last week, however Waka Kotahi and AT are still urging people 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.”
The bridge and the clip-on lanes are safe to use, however since the bridge superstructure was damaged due to high winds on 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 eight lanes open to traffic.
Auckland Transport will look to replace some double decker buses with single decker buses for services over the bridge today as a safety precaution during the risk of high wind. There are still 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 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.
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