A futuristic looking concept to solve the problem of how cyclists and pedestrians will cross between Matapihi and Bayfair Shopping Centre has been unveiled by architect and urban designer Mark Wassung.
Mr Wassung, whose vision for Tauranga has included transforming the public transport network and mixing seniors with university students in a $45 million downtown high-rise, has now brought his skills to bear on a pedestrian overbridge at Bayfair.
It followed strong public opposition to the New Zealand Transport Agency's original plan for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate multiple lanes of traffic using controlled crossings.
The new intersection was part of the $120 million Baypark to Bayfair link under construction by the agency.
Quizzed by the Bay of Plenty Times on whether the agency saw merit in Mr Wassung's plan and whether it would consider it as an alternative, Baypark to Bayfair project manager Greig Stephen said the investigation into the cycling and walking aspects of the project was ongoing.
"We have been exploring all of the options with stakeholders."
Mr Stephen said the preferred option was expected to be released later this year.
The overbridge would replace the current tunnel that linked the Owens Place Shopping Centre and the rest of Matapihi with Bayfair Shopping Centre.
Mr Wassung said the orange coloured bridge gave good connectivity and met the objectives of crime prevention through environmental design.
One of the issues of replacing the current pedestrian tunnel with a longer 100-metre tunnel was safety fears by users.
Important elements of his design were the "soft, lyrical, organic" curves for easy cycling and was the equivalent to a large scale playground apparatus.
Mr Wassung said it would be a fun experience for cyclists, pedestrians and mobility scooter riders.
Another big advantage was that unlike a new tunnel, it would not require the relocation of the existing gas, sewage and stormwater pipelines.
He chose orange because it was bright, unique and memorable, with the overbridge providing an important link for the route that connected the city with Matapihi, Bayfair and the beach.
Public responses to his design have included the council's transport committee chairman Rick Curach saying the overbridge was a statement that Tauranga was not all about cars.
"It is a brilliant concept and I certainly hope the New Zealand Transport Agency gives it the consideration it deserves."
The council's community and culture committee chairman Terry Molloy liked the option of free-flowing access across the motorway. "I guess it is a matter of cost and discussion with the NZTA."
Heidi Hughes of Bike Mount said the 1000 people who signed their petition for an underpass would be "over the moon" to achieve an outcome like the overbridge
Feedback on the overbridge would be gathered through work taking place on the city council's Cycle Action Plan, with one of the workshops planned to take place this week.
Proposed Bayfair pedestrian overbridge
Clearance: 6.7m above the new road flyover.