A new dedicated city-bound bus lane at one of Tauranga's biggest choke-points has received mixed feedback since it was introduced four days ago.

The Hairini St bus lane, which opened on Friday, was created by closing off the end of the street to all traffic except buses. Until the new underpass was opened, Hairini St used to be a bypass for traffic travelling from the direction of Welcome Bay and Ōhauiti to Turret Rd.

These motorists will now have to use either the new underpass or the Maungatapu roundabout instead.

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So far, Hairini St residents Fern Daly-Baker and Mike Baker said they had not seen anyone still trying to use the bus lane and risk getting a $150 fine.

If anything, the couple said the bus lane made it easier for them, and it was safer.

"As a resident, I don't have any issues with having to go back up to the roundabout and going that way," she said.

"We have lived here for so many years with that being the main trunk road."

But not everyone agreed.

Welcome Bay councillor Bill Grainger said he had received some calls from residents unhappy with the street becoming an exclusive bus lane.

The temporary Hairini Street closure. Photo / George Novak
The temporary Hairini Street closure. Photo / George Novak

Grainger said motorists coming from Greerton and Ohauiti had to go through two sets of traffic lights to get into the city centre.

"They want the quickest and easiest route into the city," he said.


Grainger said he would have liked to have seen the monitoring of traffic using the underpass before a dedicated bus lane was planned.

A meeting was planned to discuss the issues today.

Peter Magnussen had been monitoring the street since it had been closed and had counted a dozen cars that had ignored the closed signs at the top of Hairini St and had to make a U-turn at the bottom.

"Why if the traffic is reduced are they stopping access? " he said.

The temporary Hairini Street closure. Photo / George Novak
The temporary Hairini Street closure. Photo / George Novak

Tauranga City Council transportation manager Martin Parkes said motorists driving through Ohauiti Rd were among those most affected by the Hairini St closure on June 25.

"We are looking at reinstating the right turn on to Welcome Bay Rd at the end of Ohauiti Rd," he said.

NZ Transport Agency project manager John McCarthy said staff continued to monitor traffic flow on State Highway 29A, Maungatapu underpass and corresponding roads.

"The area is complex, and we are looking into a range of initiatives to ensure that we have optimised the traffic flow correctly," McCarthy said.

That included looking at phasing in traffic lights and how traffic from the state highway accessed Turret Rd.

"Over the coming weeks we will be rolling out some of these initiatives and will ensure that drivers are communicated to before any change," McCarthy said.

An informal Bay of Plenty Times survey counted four cars making a U-turn at the Hairini St barrier in 20 minutes.