Plans to reduce congestion and improve walking and cycling facilities on Fifteenth Avenue, Turret Road and Welcome Bay Road are open for community feedback.
The Connecting the people. Fifteenth Avenue to Welcome Bay project aims to reduce single occupancy vehicle use and make it more attractive to travel by bus, walk, cycle or scooter.
This is one of the key projects in the Western Bay of Plenty Transport System Plan - a shared transport vision for the region over the next 30 years to make sure transport projects are not done in isolation and that they work for everyone.
Tauranga City Council Director of Transport Brendan Bisley says as Tauranga continues to grow, this key route will become even more important.
“We know there are lots of challenges for people travelling in this area. Over the years, there have been many studies carried out on this route, with valuable feedback provided by the community. Council now has an opportunity to seek funding from Government to improve transport in this area and we’re working closely with our partners - mana whenua, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency - to achieve that.”
Proposed options for improvements to Fifteenth Avenue, Turret Road, Hairini Bridge and causeway and Welcome Bay Road include:
- High occupancy vehicle (T2 or T3) lanes or bus priority lanes.
- A third lane between Burrows Street and SH29A interchange (across the Hairini Bridge and causeway). This could be a ‘tidal flow’ lane which means the direction of the traffic lanes can be changed depending on the demand.
- A clip-on shared path on the Hairini Bridge for people walking, cycling, scootering or using a mobility device.
- New shared paths and improved on-road cycle facilities that will help connect people to schools, shopping, and other activities.
- New signalised crossings on Fifteenth Avenue and Welcome Bay Road.
- Safety improvements including 30km speed zones near schools, raised tables on the approaches to some intersections and centre median barriers on Fifteenth Avenue.
- A turnaround bay on Turret Road near the Hairini Bridge to provide drivers a place to turn safely.
Map showing an overview of the project area.
Brendan says considering a long-term option is also part of the planning. “We are investigating when four lanes between Burrows Street and the SH29A Interchange might be needed. We do not believe this will be needed in the short term and will use further test results on the bridge life expectancy and traffic modelling to understand timing.”
A three-lane option across the Hairini Bridge and causeway will cost about $100m, compared to $300m (high level estimates only) for a continuation of four lanes from Burrows Street to the end of the Hairini causeway, which could also take a long time to plan, consent and build. The additional costs relate to the need to purchase property and build a new bridge.
“We believe the three-lane option is a good short to medium term option to make the best use of the existing bridge for its remaining life, improve transport choices along the corridor and reduce congestion,” says Brendan.
Feedback from the community will help inform the business case to seek funding from central government and develop a detailed design. If the business case is successful, Council will consult with the community again on the detailed design before any physical works begin.
Community consultation opens on Wednesday, 13 September 2023 and will run until 5pm Friday, 6 October. To have your say, head to letstalk.tauranga.govt.nz/welcomebay.
The project team will also be available to speak with at the following in-person community drop-in sessions:
Thursday 21 September anytime between 12pm - 2pm or 3:30pm – 5:30pm at Welcome Bay Hall, 244 Welcome Bay Road, Welcome Bay (next to Caltex service station).