The proposal to relieve one of Tauranga's worst bottlenecks has been welcomed as a step in the right direction by long-suffering Welcome Bay commuter David Vince.
"But it should have been done 10 years ago and not in 10 years' time," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.
He was responding to the Tauranga City Council's decision to include the $51 million project to four-lane Turret Rd and 15th Ave into the draft 2018-28 Long Term Plan.
Council transport committee chairman Rick Curach said the widening could not happen sooner than 2021. Otherwise, it would coincide with construction of the Bayfair Link, and he did not want two key transport corridors compromised at the same time.
Vince said that since he had moved out to Welcome Bay in 1979 the council, in his view, had allowed more and more development without keeping up with the roading.
The new underpass meant rush-hour traffic in the morning would still end up bottlenecked at the Turret Rd bridge, it would just get there more quickly, he said.
"It will be nice to see something done, but it is getting to be a bit late."
Another Welcome Bay commuter, Bob Gardiner, said he had lived in Welcome Bay for about five years and the traffic had got ridiculous.
"It is getting worse and worse the whole time. Tauranga is growing that fast it is putting pressure on everything."
Traffic was crawling all the way from the Welcome Bay shops to the bridge in the morning peak, so the four-laning could not come quickly enough. "The underpass will not make a difference."
Traffic would be twice the problem it was now by the time the council began construction in four to six years time, Gardiner said.
On the trip home at night, he said, the closing of the 14th Ave exit on to Turret Rd had shown that the solution to keeping traffic flowing along Fraser St and 15th Ave was to control the traffic coming in from side roads because cars stopping to let traffic in from Burrows St had a ripple effect.
Welcome Bay Community Centre manager Anna Larsen said the volume of traffic was the issue, with most peak-time cars having one occupant. If there was a passenger, it was usually a student.
"If more people caught the bus, even if it was just once or twice a week, it would make a huge difference."
Curach said the promotion of ride sharing to reduce the number of single-occupant vehicles was a priority. He wanted a nationwide ride-sharing app introduced to make it easier for people to link up.
As for the problem of side traffic entering 15th Ave in the evening peak, he said drivers were too courteous because letting them in disrupted the flow of traffic.
Curach said it was unfortunate that land-use planning for Welcome Bay had not been more integrated with transport planning.
Why Turret Rd bridge can't be widened to three lanes for tidal flow lane
- Extra traffic loading would make it unsafe
- Not enough width for safety rails and safety margin
- Not designed for such a big change to weight distribution
Source Tauranga City Council