Hopes rise for 15th Ave slip road

By John Cousins

1 comment

Fifteenth Ave looks like finally getting a link down to the Route K toll road as part of the $286 million project to build a motorway bypassing Bethlehem and Te Puna.

The New Zealand Transport Agency's acting regional highways manager Chris Young said the agency was "considering" building the new link to the toll road via 15th Ave.

His statement followed the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend seeking its own confirmation that the slip road from 15th Ave would finally get built. It was dropped from the original plans for Route K because the costs jeopardised the formula that drove funding approvals for new roads.

However, everything changed with the recent announcement by Transport Minister Simon Bridges that construction of the 6.8km motorway from Route K to past Te Puna would begin in two years.

The announcement raised hopes that it would usher in the creation of a slip road to allow motorists driving down 15th Ave to directly access Route K.

Mr Young said the $286 million Tauranga Northern Link and any additional links were still being designed and would be finalised prior to construction in 2018.

A firmer statement that went beyond the agency saying it was "considering" a link down to 15th Ave could not be obtained by deadline last night.

Tauranga City councillor Bill Grainger earlier said that he had received confirmation that the link road was going ahead.

He also sought a second slip road off 15th Ave that went in the opposite northerly direction so that motorists could jump on to Takitimu Drive and whip along towards the city and Harbour Bridge - relieving congestion on Cameron Rd.

The link to the toll road meant that motorists wanting to use Route K to reach Tauriko and SH29 could hop on from 15th Ave instead of the current closest access point a long way back at Elizabeth St.

The council's transport manager Martin Parkes said the council had a strong desire to have a link from 15th Ave.

He understood it was "in the mix" for the Tauranga Northern Link.

He said the link down to the toll road would not only improve the local roading network but the highway network as well.

"It will take pressure off the Elizabeth St/Takitimu Drive intersection which the agency knows is an issue to be resolved. It will take traffic away from that area."

Mr Parkes said it would particularly relieve pressure on Cameron Rd which would then have a knock-on effect on all the roads that fed into Cameron Rd. It was the agency's call on whether the link went ahead down to 15th Ave.

"The NZTA has a process before they can announce a final scheme. It is a concept, there is a lot of work to do before they finalise the design."

Mayor Stuart Crosby said it had always been his understanding going back years that the agency was prepared to invest in the slip road as part of the Tauranga Northern Link.

"It was always in the conversation that if the Tauranga Northern Link came to fruition, the link from 15th Ave would come to fruition too."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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