Pressure is being put on the Rotorua Lakes Council not to lift the designation for the controversial Rotorua Eastern Arterial roading project.

Supporters of the project say the recent New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) decision not to go ahead with it and instead commit $24 million to a partial upgrade of State Highway 30/Te Ngae Rd is short-sighted and local traffic needs to be separated from through traffic.

The council had until recently supported the Eastern Arterial route, which would have seen a major highway built from the airport to the city parallel to Te Ngae Rd.

On Thursday at a meeting of the council's strategy, policy and finance committee councillors will vote on whether to remove the designation for the land from the district plan.

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Councillor Glenys Searancke, the chairwoman of the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers group, said the council should "pause" to allow more research and public consultation on the Eastern Arterial and possible variations or alternatives to it.

"The people of Rotorua believe they have a right to be consulted and heard.

"Four-laning Te Ngae Rd is not a plausible alternative for capacity, safety and social reasons."

She said it would only offer short-term relief and further divide the eastern suburbs.

 A map produced in 2013 of the planned Rotorua Eastern Arterial. PHOTO/FILE
A map produced in 2013 of the planned Rotorua Eastern Arterial. PHOTO/FILE

"A strategic pause is needed now to future proof Rotorua's roading networks."

Mayor Steve Chadwick said if the council did not lift the designation it would remain on the district plan and become an "impediment to development in the eastside community".

"The NZTA decision is in line with consultation done over the past few years by the working party.

"Te Ngae is stage one of a much bigger business case for Rotorua. We want to know what the NZTA plan to do with the road in the future so we can cope with expected growth," she said.

Councillor Peter Bentley said it was not a wise decision.

"Four-laning of Te Ngae will make it more dangerous for school children and other pedestrians getting to school ... and shops and truck and trailers through a residential area was never a happy mix."

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh said Te Ngae Rd was not the long-term solution to sustainable growth in the district.

"At least the designation was our future safety net. Upgrading Te Ngae will only move the bottleneck further down the road and will only serve to fix today's problems."

Former Rotorua mayor Grahame Hall has previously said the decision was premature and would leave no alternative to many years of road works on Te Ngae Rd.

But, it seems there will not be the numbers on council to stop the designation being lifted.
The Rotorua Daily Post spoke to councillors yesterday with the majority saying they would vote to lift it.

Those keen to lift it were Mrs Chadwick, deputy mayor Dave Donaldson and councillors Charles Sturt, Karen Hunt, Tania Tapsell, Trevor Maxwell, Rob Kent, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait and Janet Wepa.

Against lifting it were Mrs Searancke, Mike McVicker, Mr Bentley and Mark Gould.

Thursday's meeting starts at 9.30am.

Rotorua Eastern Arterial
- Roading designation has been in place since 1964
- NZTA wants the designation lifted and will upgrade State Highway 30/Te Ngae Rd
- $24 million has been budgeted for an upgrade of Te Ngae Rd
- Rotorua Lakes Council to vote on Thursday on removing the designation from the district plan