In what will come as no shock to anyone in the city with a car, traffic has increased 11 per cent in Tauranga in one year.

The amount of time it takes to get anywhere in the city feels like it has doubled since I moved here four years ago.

Living in Welcome Bay, I have first-hand experience with Tauranga's traffic problems. When I first started at the Bay of Plenty Times, there was always a morning queue of traffic from the Hairini bridge, up Hairini St and ending at the Welcome Bay/State Highway 29a roundabout. It would take about 20 minutes to navigate that section of road.

This year, traffic is usually backed up right along Welcome Bay Rd right to Waitaha Rd. There have even been days where the queue has stretched past the Welcome Bay shops.


It's a good day if I get to work in 30 minutes - except during the school holidays, when traffic is almost non-existent.

The way back home is just as bad - Fraser St and 15th Ave are a nightmare, and the queue-cutters who take the Avenues make things so much worse. People stop to let them in like it's a merge, not an intersection. If people didn't stop at Burrows St and Turret Rd, the traffic would start flowing much earlier up the road.

Then there's the other end of town. I often used to take the expressway to Mount Maunganui on a Saturday morning to go shopping or spend some time at the beach.

I can't remember the last time I was able to do that - unless you leave before 9am on Saturday, traffic gets backed up on the expressway past Baypark. Not exactly how you want to be spending a sunny day off.

Hewletts Rd is horrible any time of the day. In January, the Bay of Plenty Times revealed rush-hour congestion on the road was returning to levels not seen since the second Harbour Bridge opened eight years ago.

The highway out to Bethlehem and through Te Puna is another headache: going from two lanes to one lane to two lanes to one lane, roundabouts, roadworks ... what a nightmare.

I don't know what the solution is. I'd love to see Turret Rd and 15th Ave widened to four lanes, but that's still going to be a problem on Fraser St. The Bayfair to Baypark overpass will help in some ways, but Hewletts Rd will still be busy.

The Tauranga Northern Link I'm sure will be a huge help when it's done, but that's still years in the making.


In the meantime, I fear we will all be spending more and more of our lives sitting behind a steering wheel. The more Tauranga grows, the less time we're going to have to enjoy it.