The first official step to building an overbridge over busy State Highway 29 has begun.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby, Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and NZ Transport Agency acting Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional manager Dennis Crequer turned the first sod of the Poike Rd overbridge this morning.

The Poike Rd overbridge will be constructed immediately north of State Highway 29A and the Poike Rd roundabout in Tauranga to address the demand to cross the state highway for pedestrians and cyclists.

The $1.8 million project will see a 46m long bridge and a 3m wide shared footpath and cycle path on the southern side of State Highway 29A between Ila Park and the Poike Rd roundabout.

Construction of the overbridge is expected to take three months from July to October and construction of the shared footpath will take a following three months with completion planned for January 2017.


Mr Muller said the long term goal of the overbridge was to link key centres, schools and areas of employment with a network of shared paths to make it safer and easier for people to walk and bike around thr region.

"This project is part of a multimillion dollar plan to connect the Bay of Plenty with a series of cycling and walking paths. Over the next decade alone an estimated $15 million will be spent to help reach this goal.

"The overbridge will connect Ohauiti with Waiariki Bay of Plenty campus, opening up opportunities for walking and cycling.

"A two kilometre long shared path will link the overbridge with established and planned cycling projects also being built along the eastern side of State Highway 29A, this will enable people to more safely walk and bike around the city.

"Getting more people cycling and walking will relieve congestion, connect people with a greater range of employment, education and social opportunities and contribute to a more environmentally sustainable future for our fast growing region's transport network."