John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Te Puke shopping centre main road upgrade could be halted

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Maketu-Te Puke Ward Councillor Kevin Marsh
Maketu-Te Puke Ward Councillor Kevin Marsh

A new challenge faces the controversial plan to single lane the main road through Te Puke's shopping centre.

Re-elected Western Bay councillor Kevin Marsh has signalled he intends to lodge a notice of motion to reverse the previous council's 9-2 decision to back the project.

Work has already started on the roading changes which include converting the inside lane into a manoeuvring area for cars to enter and exit angle carparks.

Mr Marsh said he had discussed the notice of motion with council chief executive Miriam Taris and new Mayor Garry Webber.

 Maketu-Te Puke Ward Councillor Kevin Marsh
Maketu-Te Puke Ward Councillor Kevin Marsh

"That is as far as it has gone at the moment. I am working through council processes."

Council communications spokesman Frank Begley said the notice of motion had not been lodged because Mr Marsh was not sworn in as a councillor until November 10.

The earliest opportunity to consider the notice of motion was the council's first business meeting on November 24.

Mr Marsh's announcement has angered former Te Puke councillor Karyl Gunn-Thomas who said the issue contributed to her defeat in the election.

''To stop it now would be foolish for a lot of reasons. The council is not working as a team and it has not even had the first meeting," she said.

Ms Gunn-Thomas believed the new roading layout should be completed and given time to allow people to get used to it.

"A grant of $1 million-plus from the New Zealand Transport Agency is at no cost to ratepayers."

The work would transform the ambience of Te Puke into a destination town, making it safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, she said.

Mr Webber said the ball was in Mr Marsh's court to go through the process. However If the single lane was not successful, it would not be an expensive or lengthy exercise to revert to two lanes.

The other opponent of the roading change was re-elected councillor John Scrimgeour. He said the project was so far down the track that he favoured allowing the work to continue.

"Engineers assured us it can be converted back to two lanes."

New councillor Mike Lally said some business people he had spoken to were ''terribly unhappy'' with the changes and he did not want to see businesses fall over.

"I honestly don't think it will work."

However he has reserved his position on the notice of motion until he had spoken to more business people. Mr Lally said the Tauranga Eastern Link had hurt retailers in Te Puke.

Murray Holyoake of Xcetera gift shop said the two lanes had worked well and he feared the new layout could end up a shambles. He highlighted what happened with the one-way trial about 12 years ago when traffic banked up to the Whakatane turn-off.

Te Puke Economic Development Group CEO Mark Boyle said they had grave concerns with the single lane although they were happy with other aspects of the project. The compromise that got the project over the line was the ability to revert to two lanes.

Te Puke Town Centre Upgrade
• Convert double-lane road layout into single lanes
• New roundabout at Boucher Ave intersection
• Three new pedestrian crossings
• Widened pedestrian areas and landscaping
• Dedicated parking aisle

- Bay of Plenty Times

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