Capable, Strategic Leadership
WE MUST BEAT THE TRAFFIC BEFORE IT BEATS US.
Probably the greatest single threat to our city’s prosperous future will be the failure to address the growing traffic congestion across our transport network.
Lets go back and review the history a little...
STRATEGIC ROADING NETWORK (SRN)
In 1997 Tauranga Distict Council, Western BOP district Council, Environment BOP and Transit NZ signed a heads of agreement called the Access Partnership. Interestingly, it was chaired by Stuart Crosby, our soon to be retiring Mayor.
Access developed the SRN almost 20 years ago and this was designed to ultimately provide for travel around city at 80kmph.
It was to become a 4 lane highway comprising Takitimu Drive, Route K, SH29, Maunganui Rd, Hewletts Rd and the Harbour Link crossing.
16 years ago Parliament passed the Tauranga District Council (Route K ) empowering Act 2000 that paved the way for construction of the highway along the Kopurererua valley. This road was definitely constructed ahead of its time and credit is due to former Mayor Noel Pope and council for pushing ahead with the vision at the time. It is now a very important link in the transport network.
The Tauranga Harbour link
This project involved four-laning of Hewletts Rd, the construction of an additional harbor bridge, and a viaduct to connect to Takitimu Dr. As part of the Hewletts Road project a flyover was constructed to connect at the eastern end wit Maunganui Rd over the railway line and roundabout. This was completed in 2006.
This Harbour link project was opened in 2009.
Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL)
This Eastern SH2 link road from Paengaroa to Te Maunga junction was completed in 2015. It has enabled a Te Puke by-pass road and much improved travel time for traffic to the East.
Tauranga Northern Link (TNL)
The Northern Link will provide connection with Takitimu Dr Route K toll Rd and SH2 at Loop Rd Te Puna that will by-pass the Bethlehem Township.
It will also provide a connection from 15th Avenue/ Cameron Rd to Takitimu Dr/Route K toll Rd which is needed urgently to divert traffic from Cameron South to Barkes Corner SH29.
The announcement by the Minister of Transport recently that construction would start on the TNL in 2018 is good news.
Baypark to Bayfair link upgrade.
Due to be completed in 2019 this will enable traffic to flow from the TEL on through to the Hewletts Rd flyover without interuption.
Stage 4, the underpass between Welcome Bay Rd and Hairini Causeway will be completed soon. Stage 3 is the duplication of Hairini Bridge and four-lanning of 15th avenue but has only involved investigation so far. The outcome of the investigation showed no work is required in the short to medium term within this corridor, although, a better understanding of the wider roading network is required to clarify the longer term needs, and ultimate form of this important transportation corridor.
The important conclusion is that this is an important transportation corridor.
I will refer to this later in what needs to be done.
WHAT DO WE NEED NOW?
All the above projects represent a massive investment in Tauranga city’s road corridors, albeit with some components of tolling. Some may say we have had our fair share of the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) but I would point out that we host the largest and most important port in the country on both sides of the Tauranga Harbour. Access to and from that port for freight is vital for the National economy , not just our local economy.
We must continue to see investment in the full completion of the SRN if we are to avoid the awful congestion nobody welcomes, especially many of our newest residents who probably made the decision to move here to get away from heavy traffic.
The congestion points in our SRN and what needs to be done.
1.Takitimu Dr/Route K and SH 29/the Lakes roundabout.
Lets start here at the southern end of the city. Work is almost complete on improvements at the roundabout to allow better access for freight trucks on to the toll Rd that heads to the Port of Tauranga. One problem of course is that there are still too many heavy vehicles avoiding the toll and travelling along cambridge Rd. This has to be addressed as it it will ruin the residential character of the subdivisions along Cambridge and Moffat Roads. (it is already having serious effects!)
The impacts on Cambridge Road need ti be addressed when NZTA finalise their option for the upgrade of the road from Belk Rd into the city. If it follows the current alignment then serious consideration must be given to how heavy vehicles can be diverted to Route K .
2. Barkes Corner
The Traffic delays from Greerton to Barkes corner in the evening and from within Pyes Pa to Cameron Rd in the morning are steadlily getting worse. The answer is not traffic lights at Chadwick Rd.
SH29 needs to be fourlanned from the Lakes Roundabout to Barkes Corner and then a ‘cut and cover’ grade separation of the Barkes corner Roundabaout will enable the traffic in and out of Cameron Rd, and Pyes Pa Rd to flow more effectively. SH29 traffic would flow uninterupted under the roundabaout towards Oropi Rd Roundabout.
3. Oropi Rd and Poike Rd Roundabouts.
At some point these intersections will need at least some grade separation but other congestion points are priority in the next ten years.
4. Welcome Bay/ Maungatapu Roundabouts.
The current project for the underpass connection to Welcome Bay road will improve traffic flow on SH29.
5. Maungatapu Bridge duplication for four-laning.
The SRN requires 4 laning on the entire road corridor for it to be effective.
6. Hewletts Rd.
The Baypark to Bayfair link will resolve congestion at Bayfair roundabout but it will to some extent be shifting the problems down the road to Hewletts Road where 4 traffic lights await every vehicle. Earlier traffic modelling estimated Hewletts road to be getting near capacity in 2015. The intersections will have to be grade separated as there is no other current feasable alternative for access to the Port and Tauranga via the bridge. In the 2004 update of the Smartgrowth Transport project team an option of another access to the Tauranga CBD was considered through the Matapihi peninsular but rejected. (see the report link under SRN paragraph)
7.Takitimu Dr/Elizabeth St roundabout.
This intersection causes traffic flowing south in the morning peak hour to back up to the Harbour bridge. Installation of traffic lights as planned will only be a temporary band aid as was the case with Welcome Bay. Ultimately an a flyover for the Sate Highway traffic is needed.
8. Access to Route K for east bound traffic from either Waihi Rd or Route J.
This would be an advantage and would potentially alleviate traffic on Cambridge Rd or Cameron Rd.
9. Access to Route K from 15th ave.
This is planned as part of the TNL and should be brought forward to help relieve traffic on Cameron Rd. Many express frustration about only being able to access Route K from Elizabeth St.
10. Completion of Hairini link.
The fourlaning of 15th Ave all the way to Cameron Rd including the duplication of Hairini Bridge and the access to Route K would not only provide better access to the city from Maungatapu, Welcome Bay and Ohauiti, but may also divert some traffic from Te Maunga away from Maunganui Rd/Hewets Rd to the central corridor as an option to travel through the city to Bethlehem of the CBD if traffic is congested on Hewletts Rd.
11. Papamoa East access to the TEL
The TEL has been a success but is denied making a contribution to commuters from Wairakei and soon to be developed Te Tumu is the East unless an access is built.
All these projects need to be prioritised and the funding that is needed to have them included in the NZTA program where applicable or as TCC constructed roads identified and budgeted in the next Long Term Plan. (10yrs)
We cannot sit back and rely upon NZTA to prioritise and fund all of these projects in their time. A negotiated proposal has always been the best approach.