Motorists are being advised that the peak time congestion issues on State Highway 2 (SH2) between Ōmokoroa and Bethlehem are set to continue for some time yet.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says this stretch of the highway network is incredibly sensitive to any changes in traffic flow and having 500m between the Wairoa Bridge and Bethlehem reduced to 30km/hour at Taniwha Place over the past few weeks has caused commuters to be significantly delayed at peak times.
Tauranga City Council apologises for the recent delays due to kerb and channel work being done as part of the Wairoa Cycleway project and has negotiated to complete construction earlier than planned.
“Our construction team is working hard to have this work completed ahead of time – weather permitting – so this very localised speed-reduced area will be finished by the weekend,” says Director of Transport, Brendan Bisley.
“This piece of the Wairoa Cycleway puzzle – the kerbing at Taniwha Place - had to be done ahead of the major resurfacing work being undertaken by Waka Kotahi over the next two weeks. The balance of the cycleway work can be completed at night or without the strict traffic management protocols.”
Waka Kotahi will be undertaking major resurfacing work from the Wairoa Bridge to the Bethlehem roundabout - unrelated to the construction of the cycleway - from 14 May to the beginning of June. While most of the work will be completed at night there will continue to be traffic management in place during the day.
Due to the narrow width of the road and location, SH2 will be closed overnight from 8pm to 5am on Sunday 14 May, Thursday 18 May and Wednesday 24 May. Light vehicles will be detoured, and heavy vehicles will be allowed through at intervals. All emergency vehicles will be allowed through. Daytime work will be completed under stop/go traffic management.
We thank people for their patience while this work is underway. For more information check the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner.
Once the works are completed, this stretch of State Highway will have a new permanent lower speed limit introduced – from 80kmph to 50kmph.
Why the delays?
Very strict traffic management is required (30km/h speed restrictions) on and around this State Highway site because the work being done here extends into the main part of the road. These restrictions are required even when workers are not on site.
A range of options were considered for installing the kerb and channelling and the best (and least disruptive) option was to do the work prior to the major resurfacing work planned by Waka Kotahi.
How many cars per day travel on this stretch of road?
Average number of vehicles per hour (vph)
7am-10am heading south – 2000 vph
9am-3pm heading south – 1800 vph
3pm-6pm heading north – 2200 vph
How many nights will SH2 be closed for resurfacing works?
Three nights (14 May, 18 May, 24 May) with diversions through Wairoa Road, Crawford Road and Poripori Road onto SH29.
Why doesn’t the cycleway go up the same side of SH2 as the clip-on bridge?
Using the northern side did not leave enough space to allow a turning vehicle to wait for a cyclist without holding up traffic behind them.
With heavy traffic and trucks heading towards Bethlehem, approaching cyclists would not be visible in both directions, as well as at multiple driveways.
The volume and types of traffic on SH2 limited the ability for people cycling to see vehicles turning.
The alignment of the cycleway on the eastern side of the road provides safety benefits for users, particularly at the intersection of Taniwha Place as it avoids the crossing of multiple busy driveways.
An alternative solution (for a wider range of users including pedestrians) is being developed as part of the Takitimu North Link.
Why has the left-hand slip lane been removed from Taniwha Place?
There are three reasons:
- Space on this side of the road is required for the cycleway
- The left-hand slip lane was constructed when left turning traffic was required to give way to right turning traffic (this changed in 2012 and now left turning traffic has right of way)
- With the reduction in speed limit to 50kmph once the cycleway is completed there is no need for left turning traffic to need a long slip lane for ‘slowing down’ to turn.
In other words, the slip lane is being re-purposed.
Why is a signalised crossing is being installed at the top of the hill near Bethlehem?
This will enable cyclists and pedestrians to cross the road safely and was programmed to be delivered irrespective of the cycleway due to development occurring in the surrounding area. The installation of the crossing has been brought forward to support this project and the wider area into the future.
When operating, the signalised crossing will stop traffic for approximately 20 seconds. At peak times traffic is already moving very slowly so this is not a significant impediment to traffic flow – just as the one at the other end of Bethlehem is not a significant impediment to traffic flow.
The crossing will also enable cyclists to get across the road safely. The safer cyclists feel, the more they will be confident using the road. The more cyclists using the road, the fewer cars there will be on the road.
For more information about the Wairoa Cycleway project visit www.tauranga.govt.nz/wairoacycleway