Date: 13 February 2023
Aucklanders are being urged to avoid coastal roads this afternoon and evening given the potential for strong storm surges, Auckland Transport says.
Auckland Transport’s Executive General Manager Safety Stacey van der Putten says that in order to stay safe Aucklanders should avoid coastal and low lying roads over the next few hours.
“Coastal roads like Tāmaki Drive and Ngapipi Road, and other low-lying roads near Auckland’s beaches, harbours and estuaries will be susceptible to storm surges and large waves around high tide today,” Ms van der Putten says.
“We’re asking Aucklanders to steer clear of these coastal roads for the next few hours, in line with Auckland Emergency Management’s advice for Aucklanders to stay away from beaches.
“Our bus operators have plans in place to detour buses which travel along coastal roads in the event of storm surges and we have reiterated our guidance that buses should not be travelling through floodwaters or storm surges.”
KiwiRail’s closure of the rail network extended until at least mid afternoon Tuesday
KiwiRail has confirmed that its closure of Auckland’s rail network will continue until at least mid afternoon on Tuesday in order to keep passengers, train staff and maintenance crews safe as ex-Cyclone Gabrielle gets closer to Auckland. Kiwirail will be undertaking inspections first thing tomorrow morning to inform a decision on opening the network as soon as it is possibly safe to do so.
In light of this rail closure extension we are putting on hourly rail replacement buses to cover the Western, Eastern and Southern Lines (between Otahuhu and Papakura). These are operating now. Rail replacement buses in place on the Onehunga and Southern Lines between Newmarket and Otahuhu for KiwiRail’s Rail Network Rebuild will continue to operate as usual today.
Low traffic volumes and bus passenger numbers this morning
Stacey van der Putten says early traffic statistics from Auckland’s local roads this morning show that Aucklanders have been following advice to stay home today and limit travel.
“This morning we saw traffic volumes on Auckland’s local roads sitting at about 50% of their usual levels, with passenger numbers on our buses sitting at less than 25% of what we would normally see,” Ms van der Putten says.
“We’re thanking Aucklanders for following our guidance and staying home, staying safe and limiting non-essential travel today. This has made managing the weather event today much easier.
“I know that in some parts of Auckland it’s felt like conditions have eased off this morning, but with conditions expected to worsen this afternoon it’s important that people continue to stay home and stay safe.”
Auckland’s local road network is continuing to cope well with no significant road closures this morning, although this is likely to change over the course of the afternoon and evening.
Ferry services being suspended early this evening
Ferry services are significantly disrupted by current weather conditions, with some limited services running at the moment and cancellations in place for Gulf Harbour, Pine Harbour and Rakino services.
All ferry services will be finishing early tonight as conditions are expected to worsen on the Waitemata Harbour. Detailed information about the last running service on each route is available at at.govt.nz/weatherwatch.
AT’s ongoing advice for Aucklanders ahead of Cyclone Gabrielle:
- Consider whether your travel today and on Tuesday is necessary and plan ahead your full return journey – there is a possibility the Harbour Bridge will need to close again in coming days, so consider avoiding heading over the bridge unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Check the AT website at www.at.govt.nz/weatherwatch for regular updates on road closures and public transport and use the AT Mobile app or Journey Planner for planning you public transport journey. Travel alerts are also available at www.twitter.com/AT_TravelAlerts.
- Be prepared for road closures. Specific areas to avoid should flooding occur are the Wairau Valley, Tamaki Drive, Fanshawe St around Victoria Park and Fred Thomas Drive. There are many more and these will be available on our website.
- The harbourmaster has also issued an alert to all mariners to check their vessels and address any issues in preparation for the arrival of the cyclone.
- Our public transport network will continue to be operational but changes to services and cancellations will be made if required to ensure our customers and staff remain safe. The rail network will be closed until at least 3pm Monday, buses operate detours and ferry service cancellations as the weather impacts develop. Plans are in place to implement when necessary.
- Given that this storm event is predicted to bring high winds people are advised to keep a lookout for debris and fallen trees on the road, and as always to drive to the conditions.
Our plan for managing public transport services as severe weather hits
Our public transport operations team will be working closely with our Incident Management Team to ensure that our customers and staff on public transport services are kept safe as weather conditions deteriorate early next week. Depending on conditions we will be making decisions on:
- Bus diversions, which will be implemented as required
- Harbour bridge restrictions will follow agreed processes with Waka Kotahi and bus operators based on wind speeds
- Trains will continue to be stopped while wind gusts are forecast to exceed 100km/h.
- Ferry services will have reduced frequencies and cancellations, as specified by the operator. All ferry services will be cancelled if directed by the Incident Management Team.
In addition, our road maintenance teams have been working around the clock to prepare the network for Cyclone Gabrielle:
- Sweeping teams as well as catchpit cleaning teams have been mobilised to clean and clear as many areas and catchpits as possible, especially in critical areas. This is in addition to any catchpit cleaning being done by Healthy Waters.
- Our road maintenance work continues on from the Anniversary weekend weather event. Contractors have also implemented precautionary measures at existing slips and damaged sites across the region to help minimise further damage. This includes sandbags, installation of bunds and polyethylene covers on open slip faces and above the dropouts.
- We have people on the ground, ready to respond quickly to slips and flood damage on roads if needed, with a large number of resources on standby.
- Our road maintenance contractors have in excess of 400 people working across the network. We also have geotechnical and structural engineers we are calling in, as necessary.
- Staff and contractors are working across the network to secure worksites and removed non essential cones and signs, ahead of strong winds.
- We encourage the public to respect any current road closures, barriers and signages – they are there for your protection of your and others safety.
- To re iterate, we will be updating our information and messaging frequently based on new or emerging information - please use the travel information available at At.govt.nz and use the AT mobile app for planning your public transport journey.
To keep up to date, please visit at.govt.nz/weatherwatch.