An important upgrade for Totara Street has been approved to go ahead. Here’s what you need to know.
It’s about improving safety
The main goal is to make Totara Street safer for people who walk and ride bikes. There was a cycling fatality on Totara Street in May 2020, and a scooter fatality in 2018. An independent risk assessment shows the risk of serious injury or death for individual vulnerable road users is higher on Totara Street than on a typical road with similar volumes of traffic and of similar length in New Zealand.
It’s a shared path and a separated cycleway
A 3m wide shared path between Hewletts Road and Kawaka Street (eastern side), and a separated cycleway between Kawaka and Rata Street (Port side) will give people on bikes more opportunity to ride off the road, away from heavy vehicles. The design includes intersection upgrades and a new signalised crossing near Kawaka Street.
It’s not a perfect solution
The immediate priority is to make Totara Street safer, which is what the shared path and cycleway will achieve. It won’t please everyone and it’s not a comprehensive solution for the Mount Maunganui area, but it’s a safety improvement that can be made now.
Longer term planning for Totara Street will continue. This planning is complex and it would be several more years before anything could be constructed.
It will be built in 2021
The aim is to start building in April 2021, with a construction timeframe of about seven months.
The final details of the design will be finished this year. The council will continue to work with the locally affected Totara Street businesses and stakeholders to discuss their needs around property access and parking.
It’s been designed by experts
The design team are nationally recognised safety experts who have been heavily involved in developing the Christchurch City cycle network. They understand the issues and complexities of building cycleways in heavy industrial areas and they’ve seen how cyclists interact with these types of environments. They appreciate what works from both a vehicle user’s and a cyclist’s perspective.
The design has changed since earlier this year
One of the challenges for this project has been how to get people safely from the harbour bridge pathway on the western side of Totara Street to the new shared path on the eastern side.
The updated design aims to make it easier for people to cross at the main Hewletts Road intersection, instead of creating a new crossing point further along Totara Street. A traffic light will be added at the left turn slip-lane into Totara Street, which people can activate to cross safely to the main intersection crossing point. This is option is supported by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
It might take a bit longer to drive over the harbour bridge at rush hour
Depending on how many people activate the new left-turn pedestrian crossing signal at Totara Street, people driving from the city might sometimes find themselves in longer queues as they approach Hewletts Road. At worst this could mean a 1.7 minute delay if the pedestrian crossing lights were to be triggered at each change of the lights during the highest peak hour traffic. Although 1.7 minutes can seem like a long time, it needs to be measured against the potential for death and serious injury that the project is trying to prevent.
Waka Kotahi supports signalising the Hewletts Road left turn slip lane to provide a safer crossing for pedestrians and cyclists.
Biking between Mount Maunganui and the city will become a more attractive option
Modelling has indicated that the project is expected to increase the number of cyclists using Totara Street by approximately 40%. Most of these trips are expected to be between Mount Maunganui and central Tauranga. About 400 people cycle over the harbour bridge each day at the moment.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will help pay for it
Council contribution to the project is $4.1M. The remaining partnership funding of $4.284M will be provided by Waka Kotahi, bringing the total project cost to $8.4M. The business case will be considered by Waka Kotahi in December of this year.
More information is on the project webpage.
Councillors approved the updated design at the council meeting today, Tuesday, 17 November 2020. You can read the full Totara Street report in item 10.1 of the committee agenda.