Up to $30 million will be saved off the cost of four-laning Turret Rd and 15th Ave by sticking to existing roads and not building a detour around the back of the Silver Birch Holiday Park that would hug the side of the estuary.
Although the realignment of Turret Rd around the estuary was assessed by the New Zealand Transport Agency as the "best performing" option, it was $20 million to $30 million more expensive than widening the existing alignment.
Agency spokesman Andrew Scott yesterday clarified the agency's position, telling the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend that sticking to the existing roads provided similar benefits without the extra cost.
However, no final decision would be made on four-laning Turret Rd and 15th Ave until the Tauranga City Council had finished a transport planning study called the Tauranga Urban Network Strategy. It will then recommend an "optimal solution" for the 15th Ave/Turret Rd corridor.
Meanwhile, the council yesterday supported the agency's preference for the intersection on the Welcome Bay side of the planned Welcome Bay underpass.
It was for a three-leg signalised intersection built on land partly occupied by houses at the bottom of Hammond St. It may also be in the path of the Welcome Bay Scout Hall.
Mr Scott explained to councillors why it was the best-performing option - compared with the two other options involving roundabouts built further around the big hillside reserve and closer to Ohauiti Rd.
The option closest to Ohauiti Rd had a lot of "fatal flaws" including access to Hammond St and the roundabout being built on a slope. The other roundabout option closer to the bottom of Hammond St had a better geometry and better connection to Hammond St, but it did not cater for peak evening traffic flows because traffic coming from town would give way to right-turning traffic coming from the area of Ohauiti Rd and Hairini.
"Gradients are the issue."
The preferred option using traffic signals balanced the traffic flows to ensure a priority for the main flow of traffic to and from Welcome Bay. It also had good geometry and was more cycle and pedestrian friendly. It envisaged the bottom of Hairini St becoming a cul-de-sac.
The council agreed it was the best-performing option, both for State Highway 29 traffic and Welcome Bay traffic. However, its support was conditional on the agency working collaboratively with the council to ensure that detailed designs recognised local roading network issues relating to Hairini St, Ohauiti Rd and Hammond St.
A decision on the preferred option will be made by the agency at the end of this month so that the route of the underpass can be designated.
The designation could take between nine months and two years.
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