Waka Kotahi over-cautious on Harbour Bridge closures – EMA

In News2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 7, 2023

Waka Kotahi is over-cautious when it comes to harbour bridge closures, says the Employers and Manufacturers Association.

It said the transport agency needs to review its closure policy and risk profiles for managing Auckland’s Harbour Bridge, and that it is scare-mongering.

The criticism comes after Waka Kotahi issued amber and red alert levels for the bridge.

On Monday, there were lanes closed in both directions on the bridge and speed limits were reduced to 30km/h. High-sided vehicles and motorcyclists were encouraged to delay their journey.

Under an amber alert, speeds are reduced and some lanes on the bridge may close. Under a red alert, all lanes on the bridge are closed.

EMA head of advocacy, strategy and finance, Alan McDonald, said closures created further delays for critical freight moving to and from Northland and through the Auckland region from other major centres.

“Effectively what we are seeing now is almost scare-mongering behaviour from NZTA. Worried North Shore residents either stay home or leave work early based on the off-chance that the New Zealand Transport Agency might close or reduce access to the Harbour Bridge,” he said.

“The current policy continues to look like a knee-jerk overreaction to the one serious damage accident we’ve had in 70 years of operation of the bridge.”

McDonald said accepting closures because of weather conditions was a given in extreme weather, and more extreme weather events were expected.

“But we also know NZTA has lowered its risk thresholds for weather-related closures and it increasingly appears that those thresholds are simply too low. Those thresholds need to be revisited,” he said

“Businesses in the central city and workplaces around the greater Auckland region can’t keep putting up with disruptions to their workforces and businesses on the off-chance the bridge might close.”