John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Four lane road may be fast-tracked

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Roadworks showing the two-lane alignment for Te Okuroa Drive currently being built past Northpower's depot at Papamoa East.
Roadworks showing the two-lane alignment for Te Okuroa Drive currently being built past Northpower's depot at Papamoa East.

Papamoa East's rapid pace of development could see a planned alternative arterial road four-laned years earlier than expected.

Zariba Properties, one of Wairakei's major developers, yesterday put the case for the council to spend an additional $1.4 million widening Te Okuroa Drive sooner rather than later, saving $230,000.

The stretch of Te Okuroa Drive proposed to be four-laned was from Parton Rd to The Boulevard, with the remainder of the planned new road staying as two lanes.

The road was a critical component to ease traffic pressure facing residents who currently had only one route out of the eastern end of Papamoa - Papamoa Beach Rd.

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Zariba director Dwayne Roper said development at Wairakei had progressed faster than anticipated when Te Okuroa Drive was planned three to four years ago.

"There are now a large number of Special Housing Areas in Wairakei spurring residential development." he said.

The Boulevard was planned to connect to Te Okuroa Drive by 2018 to meet the demands of two other Wairakei developers, Hawridge and Blue Haven.

Mr Roper argued that Te Okuroa Drive was the main entry to the Wairakei and leaving it half completed did not present well for one of Tauranga's main growth areas.

Based on the current pace of development, he predicted that the two-lane capacity of Te Okuroa Drive of about 16,000 vehicles a day would likely be exceeded in three years. The two-lane capacity was the equivalent of 1600 new houses.

Zariba also argued that the current two-lane configuration would not be adequate for public transport and bus stops.

The council had acquired enough land for a four-lane road and it was preparing the foundations for four lanes, leaving $1.4 million as the cost of the paving.

Zariba identified savings that meant the widening would not impact on the council's current 2016-17 annual plan.

Mr Roper said a proposed $1.76 million access road through its land to service sections along the northern boundary was no longer required because the area would be accessed through the Zariba Terrace Views subdivision.

And going straight to four lanes would make the interim road layout redundant. The council would decide on Zariba's annual plan submission later next month.

Key rationale for widening Te Okuroa Drive:

* Traffic volumes likely to exceed projections

* Community perceptions and expectations

* Financial impact

- Bay of Plenty Times

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