The NZ Transport Agency is undertaking further testing and modelling work on the Tauranga Eastern Link as the Government considers whether there should be an increase in the maximum speed limit.

This week, Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss confirmed that the speed limits on a series of new roads could be increased to 110km/h.

He said there were some "very high-class roads" where an increased speed limit was possible.

"Potentially, the Transmission Gully, maybe the new Tauranga motorway, the new road north of Auckland, and Waikato Expressway - that kind of class of road," he said.


Tauranga City Mayor Stuart Crosby and Western Bay of Plenty District Council Mayor Ross Paterson both supported the proposal.

Mr Crosby said he had driven on the TEL on several occasions since it opened and it was clear the road could handle a 110km/h limit, provided people drove to the conditions.

"However, what I have never agreed with is the 5 to 10km/h speed tolerance. I do my best to stay within the speed limit and use cruise control in my car to stop me speeding. If the speed does increase to 110km/h then that should be it. A speed tolerance doesn't make sense. It's like saying it's okay to steal a few lollies out of shop but not a whole bag," he said.

Mr Paterson said increasing the speed on the TEL to 110km/h made sense as the road was built for it, and would bring New Zealand in line with some other countries, including Australia.

It was worth "giving it a go" with police monitoring compliance, he said. However, Mr Paterson said there needed to be far more clarity from police about the discretionary speed tolerance.

NZ Transport Agency road safety director Eric Zollner said the executive teams of NZ Transport Agency, Ministry of Transport, ACC and NZ Police had all recommended the Government continued to explore the proposal.

"Certain roads are more forgiving at this higher speed and the TEL had been designed to reduce the risk of a head-on crash," he said.

Mr Zollner said the NZ Transport Agency had been undertaking some testing and modelling work.


An increase was one of the proposals being explored under a new draft set of national guidelines which recommends taking a new approach to speed management.

That included setting limits based on the safety rating of the road.

Mr Zollner said it was unlikely any firm decisions would be made until the later part of next year.

Tauranga MP and Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the Government was open to the idea of a 110km/h limit but only on the country's best motorways being built to at least 4-star safety standard as part of the Roads of National Significant Programme.

Ministers were considering advice from transport officials on speed limits and no decisions had been made, he said.

Mr Bridges said it would need a law change requiring government approval and consultation.

A recent Automobile Association report said the majority of its members backed an increase.

A Bay of Plenty Times Weekend online poll yesterday showed almost 37 per cent of 73 respondents wanted the speed limit increased to 110 km/h on well designed open roads like the TEL.

But 30.1 per cent did not want the speed to change and 6.85 per cent wanted it reduced.Additional reporting NZME.