The NZ Transport Agency cautions drivers to expect delays as sections of the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Northern Motorway (State Highway 1) will be closed as part of the course for an international Ironman event next Sunday, 20 January.
The closures, which will also include the Northern Busway, will start to be implemented from 1.30am on Sunday and all lanes will be re-opened by 11am.
"We strongly urge drivers to plan ahead," says the NZTA’s Regional Traffic Operations Manager, Kathryn Musgrave. "The closures are extensive and will have a significant impact on people using the Auckland Harbour Bridge. While three lanes in each direction will remain open, all the lane closures are expected to cause some congestion on our network."
The harbour bridge, motorway and busway are sections of the 90km-long cycling course for Ironman 70.3 Auckland, which doubles as the Asia-Pacific Championship event.
"The Auckland Harbour Bridge is a critical part of the city’s motorway network and we must carefully consider any request for a closure like this," Ms Musgrave says. "However, we’re delighted that our iconic harbour bridge can be included as part of an event that is going to attract a lot of international publicity for Auckland.
"We have been working closely with event organisers to ensure that any disruption to drivers is kept to a minimum. We have asked for the event to be held on a Sunday morning when traffic is traditionally lighter – as we do with Auckland’s annual marathon event on the harbour bridge. The big differences with Ironman 70.3 are that the closures will remain in place for an hour or so longer than the marathon, and it is being held during the middle of summer when people may be travelling to holiday destinations."
Auckland Transport, meanwhile, advises that due to the closures a number of bus stops will be relocated and bus route diversions will be in place in the city centre and the Northern Busway. AT Ambassadors will be available to helps passengers to new stop locations. A Sunday timetable will operate, however longer travelling times for buses travelling in and around the event should be expected. Residents and businesses in the area requiring more information on how road closures might affect them can visit www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz(external link).
Ms Musgrave says the NZTA thanks drivers for their support and patience during what will be an exciting event for Auckland.
"We ask that they drive with care and patience – there will be a lot of distraction for them – and we also wish all Ironman competitors every success. We hope that the Auckland Harbour Bridge will feature as part of the course for future Ironman 70.3 Auckland events," says Ms Musgrave.
Ironman 70.3 Auckland closures are as follows (closures will start to be implemented at 1.30am on Sunday, 20 January, and will be lifted by 11am):
Auckland Harbour Bridge: two lanes of the southbound box-girder (clip-on) closed
Shelly Beach Road off-ramp: closed
Onewa Road on-ramp southbound: closed (to be re-opened at 9.30am)
Northern Motorway (SH1): lane 1 (left hand or inside lane) closed from just north of the Esmonde Road interchange to the Auckland Harbour Bridge
Northern Busway: closed
The Esmonde Road interchange will remain open for all southbound and northbound traffic.