Wild weather could close Auckland Harbour Bridge

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 27 Sep 2020, 9:56AM
A centre span on Auckland Harbour Bridge was recently damaged when a truck crashed after a powerful gust of wind tipped it over. Photo / Dean Purcell
A centre span on Auckland Harbour Bridge was recently damaged when a truck crashed after a powerful gust of wind tipped it over. Photo / Dean Purcell

Wild weather could close Auckland Harbour Bridge

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 27 Sep 2020, 9:56AM

Auckland Harbour Bridge could close from around 10am today as wild weather hits the city.

The NZ Transport Agency is preparing to close some lanes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge this morning before a forecast wind shift that could bring gusts of up to 110km/h.

Currently there are northerly wind gusts of up to 70km/h in Auckland, but the bridge is relatively sheltered, NZTA says.

However, Metservice was forecasting a wind shift from the north to the west at about 9.30am that could bring winds of 80-90km/h.

Metservice is also forecasting a front bringing wind gusts from the west up to 110km/h for a short time from about 10.15am.

"The wind shift could bring a swift change in the strength of the gusts, so as a precaution we will close one southbound lane and two northbound lanes on the bridge until the wind settles," says Waka Kotahi Senior Journey Manager, Neil Walker.

"If the wind does reach 90km/h as forecast, we will close a second southbound lane."

Walker said the 110kph gusts could lead to the closure of all lanes.

Motorists, especially drivers of high sided vehicles and motorcycles, are advised to avoid the bridge this morning and use the Western Ring Route on SH16 and SH18.

"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."

"Waka Kotahi acknowledges the lane closures will cause disruption and inconvenience, but safety is our priority and the lanes closures will be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so."

Auckland was gridlocked after the bridge was damaged in high winds on September 18. A truck carrying a shipping container driving southbound on Auckland's Harbor Bridge was blown sideways by wind gusting up to 127km/h, seriously damaging the structure.

Another "medium-sized" truck heading north was also caught in the freak wind gusts and was blown across two lanes of traffic before toppling onto a movable barrier where it remained stuck.

The accidents meant Auckland's roads and public transport network descended into chaos as traffic banked up for kilometres along the city's Northern and Northwestern motorways.

"The truck striking the bridge has damaged the superstructure, with a steel upright sheared off," NZTA's senior journey manager Neil Walker said.

Motorists attempting to make their way home at the time to the west and north of the city reported being stuck in traffic for hours.

On average, more than 170,000 vehicles cross the bridge on weekdays. Its eight lanes are changed four times a day into different configurations to adjust to peak-time traffic flows.

The latest incident re-ignited the second harbour crossing debate.

 

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