Durham St has been identified as a top potential location for a new bus interchange in Tauranga's CBD.
The proposed shift from Willow St would coincide with the $4.67 million upgrading of Durham St and Durham Lane, starting with the southern block featuring the new university campus.
Plans for the staged upgrading of Durham St were outlined to a meeting of Tauranga City Council yesterday. It envisaged the tertiary block from Elizabeth St to Spring St becoming a pedestrian friendly precinct with 22 trees, street furniture and a 30km/h speed limit.
Durham Lane runs parallel to Durham St, mid-block between Cameron Rd and Durham St.
The report disclosed that the street design had been aligned to fit the findings of a bus interchange location review by Abley Transportation Consultants earlier this year.
"The review identified Durham St as one of the top potential locations for an interchange," council strategic adviser Fiona Nalder and city centre manager James Woodward wrote.
A concept design report from architects Jasmax said Abley Transportation Consultants had identified the southern end of the Elizabeth St to Spring St block as the "best location" to relocate the interchange when the operations of the Civic Heart project required the shift in about five years.
The southern end was preferred because of the campus and Trustpower buildings, and it would be closer to the new Farmers development, movie theatres and other destinations for bus passengers.
"The additional distance from the centre of the CBD can be mitigated with a high amenity street that is safe and attractive to walk on."
Bus passengers would be able to catch and depart buses elsewhere in the city centre, reducing reliance on the interchange to accommodate all movements.
However it was repeatedly stressed yesterday that the location of the bus interchange had not been decided.
Councillor Larry Baldock said it was a bit difficult to mix pedestrians and buses, and the buses would undermine the pedestrian concept along that section of Durham St.
Councillor Leanne Brown said Jasmax's concept plans were a great step forward.
"We have been talking about it for a long time."
Councillor Steve Morris said it would be a great environment provided the regional council went down the route of electric buses so they did not have diesel fumes everywhere.
Mayor Greg Brownless said the upgrade was being done in conjunction with the university.
"It will be something for the students to be proud of."
The council agreed to proceed with the next step in the process, the preparation of detailed designs. These designs would come back to the council for approval after Christmas, with construction due to start on the tertiary section of Durham St in June next year and finishing in February 2019 - in line with the opening of the campus.
The upgrade of the tertiary precinct block would result in the loss of 19 of the 47 carparks, with a further 22 carparks lost if the street was chosen for the bus interchange.
Mr Woodward said the loss of carparks would be compensated by construction of the Harington St transport hub (parking building).
Durham St and Durham Lane cost sharing
• Concept design: $133,000 (65% council/35% university)
• Estimated detailed design: $198,000 (61% council/39% university)
• Estimated construction costs: $4.34 million (council 90%/NZ Transport Agency 10%)