Harbour bridge closures ‘over-cautious’ after 2020 incident


Waka Kotahi needs to review its closure policy and risk profiles for managing Auckland’s Harbour Bridge as yet another day of productivity is lost to Auckland’s economy, says the Employers & Manufacturers Association (EMA)

The current policy continues to look like a knee-jerk over reaction to the one serious damage accident we’ve had in 70 years of operation of the bridge, says EMA Head of Advocacy, Strategy and Finance, Alan McDonald.

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

The NZTA’s strong wind warnings which failed to eventuate saw people streaming home to the North Shore on Monday, McDonald says.

“They are going home, not because of the weather, but because they are worried about being stranded or heavily delayed by the over-cautious approach to management of the bridge.”

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.

“It increasingly appears that those thresholds are simply too low. Those thresholds need to be revisited.

“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. Those closures also create further delays for critical freight moving to and from Northland and through the Auckland region from other major centres.”