Forecast 90 kph wind gusts did not reach expected levels on Auckland Harbour Bridge today avoiding plans to close the bridge to traffic, but transport authorities are warning that closures may happen at very short notice if necessary.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency spokesperson Brett Gliddon, who signalled earlier today that lane closures could happen if forecast wind gusts eventuated, says the bridge remains in a vulnerable state until permanent repairs are completed.
“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.”
Authorities came close to closing some lanes mid-morning when gusts came within 6 kph of the safety cut off.
“Our threshold for closing lanes was the wind gusting to 80 kph. The wind got to 74 kph before easing back just after 10am,” the transport agency's Neil Walker says.
Last Friday, wind gusts suddenly increased without warning from 60 kph to 127 kph 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,” Gliddon says.
Auckland Transport replaced double-decker buses with single-decker buses for weekend services over the bridge as a safety precaution, while motorcyclists and drivers of high sided vehicles are advised to stay off the bridge and use the alternative Western ring route.
More unsettled weather with wind gusts up to 75 kph is forecast for Monday morning with winds up to 80 kph on Tuesday.