News from NZTA
The NZ Transport Agency has re-opened State Highway 18 (the Hobsonville Motorway) after it was closed when a series of tornados swept through north-west Auckland this afternoon. The motorway was re-opened just after 4pm It was closed in both directions just after 1.30pm.
Storms brought down light poles, disabled motorway cameras and left sections of the motorway littered with debris.
SH18 was re-opened after NZTA contractors had inspected the motorway for damage and cleared debris.
“We had to be absolutely sure in the first place that it was safe for our contractors to be out making their checks, and then certain that it was safe for drivers to use the motorway again,” says the NZTA’s acting State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton.
The motorway’s Squadron Drive on and off ramps, however, remain closed until further notice.
Mr Mutton says the closure together with the storms is responsible for widespread congestion across the Auckland motorway network this evening. .
“We’re doing everything we can to get traffic running smoothly and safely, but journeys home tonight for some could be longer than usual. We ask drivers to be patient, not follow too closely and use their headlights in case heavy rain reduces visibility.”
Earlier news from NZ Transport Agency – Auckland Regional Office
Auckland’s State Highway 18 (Hobsonville motorway) has been closed in both directions between Greenhithe and Brigham Creek Road after a tornado swept through the Hobsonville area in north-west Auckland this afternoon causing widespread damage.
The tornado disabled some network cameras on SH18, destroyed some motorway noise walls and left sections of the motorway covered with debris.
The NZTA’s acting State Highways manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton, says it is unclear when the motorway will re-open.
“The priority is safety of drivers, the public and our field staff who maintain the motorway network. The motorway will remain shut until further notice,” Mr Mutton says. “Drivers should avoid this area of Auckland as authorities deal with this emergency.”
Storms are expected to sweep across the city and drivers are urged to use other sections of the network with extreme care, and use their headlights so that their vehicles can be seen.
“The closure of SH18 means other parts of the network will become congested and we ask all people drive with patience and to consider whether their travel is necessary,” Mr Mutton says.