- New roundabout, lanes - Eastern Arterial 'unlikely'

THE GOVERNMENT has announced a $24 million injection for Rotorua's roading network that will include major upgrades to Te Ngae Rd.

The roading package will see an upgrade to State Highway 30/Te Ngae Rd, a new roundabout at the Te Ngae and Tarawera Rd intersection, the four-laning of a section of Te Ngae Rd, and improved walking and cycling connections.

It also means the Rotorua Eastern Arterial (REA) route through sensitive Maori land close to Lake Rotorua is "unlikely to be built, even in the long term", said Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

He made the announcement in Rotorua yesterday with Rotorua MP Todd McClay and mayor Steve Chadwick.

A $24 million project to upgrade parts of Te Ngae Rd will begin this year. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
A $24 million project to upgrade parts of Te Ngae Rd will begin this year. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

"The Government has been working closely with Rotorua Lakes Council to look at the best way to future-proof the city's transport network, resolve congestion issues and address challenges surrounding local road access," Mr Bridges said.

"Rotorua's eastern corridor has long been identified as the location for the majority of future residential and employment development in the city. It is a key transport route and serves both an inter-regional and local function."

Mr Bridges said investigations carried out by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) under the Government's Accelerated Regional Roading Programme recommended the REA not be built, and it was unlikely to be built.

"Rotorua is a key connection point for road transport in the central and upper North Island, connecting industries such as tourism and forestry with the Port of Tauranga.

"This investment into Rotorua's transport network is designed to support economic growth and development, help ease congestion and improve road safety."

Transport Minister Simon Bridges announces a $24 million injection for Rotorua's transport network in Rotorua on Friday. Photo/Ben Fraser
Transport Minister Simon Bridges announces a $24 million injection for Rotorua's transport network in Rotorua on Friday. Photo/Ben Fraser

Preparation for the upgrades will get under way this year and work will be carried out during the next two to three years.

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1 Mar, 2016 2:00pm
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"This work will complement the more than $17 million worth of transport projects already announced in Rotorua including the $8.1 million SH5/Hemo Rd roundabout, $5.5 million in cycling and $3.5 million in safety improvements," Mr Bridges said.

The work will be co-funded by the Government through the NZTA and Rotorua Lakes Council, and will include funding from the Urban Cycleways Fund with potential for further investment based on growth.

Mrs Chadwick welcomed the announcement as a great start to a long-term roading solution "which will not only ease pressure on a busy road but also help the region's economic growth".

"Congestion on Te Ngae Rd is a major problem for us and needs to be addressed. However, it is important we look to a more comprehensive medium- and long-term solution to support growth and give certainty," she said.

Mr McClay said he and Mrs Chadwick were committed to working together to improve roading in Rotorua in order to better support development and future growth.

"Rotorua is a vibrant and energetic tourist destination and a key point for connecting industries such as forestry with the Port of Tauranga."

Mr McClay said Rotorua's eastern corridor remained an important link to the Port of Tauranga.

"For this reason NZTA had been asked to investigate supporting the council's request for the removal of the designation for the REA to support economic development. In particular, I have asked for community views on this issue," he said.

"I'll continue to work with Minister Bridges and the NZTA to find the best option for Rotorua's long-term transport network.

"This includes exploring the option of a new roundabout at the airport and consideration of an overpass at the Tarawera roundabout."

Bay of Plenty regional transport committee chairwoman Jane Nees also supported the project.

She said the investment would help strengthen key links between Rotorua and the wider region, including to the Port of Tauranga.

"The Regional Land Transport Plan prioritises activities to address congestion, safety and access issues along SH30/Te Ngae Rd, which this funding will help achieve.

"Along with the recently completed Tauranga Eastern Link, we expect this funding will improve access for freight and people throughout the region."

-Why iwi representatives were disappointed with the announcement, A2.