"Rat-runners" at one of Western Bay of Plenty's busiest traffic choke points have prompted authorities to consider shutting off access between State Highway 2 and local roads.
The proposal comes despite overwhelming negative feedback, prompted from a nearly two-week trial at Te Puna in May.
The NZ Transport Agency confirmed it planned to investigate removing right-hand turns at the SH2 intersection with Te Puna Station Rd and Wairoa Rd, and closing Te Puna Station Rd, off from Clarke Rd, to Tauranga-bound traffic.
Agency system manager Rob Campbell said the objective was to keep state highway traffic separate from local road traffic, "preventing people taking short-cuts or rat-running".
The annual average daily traffic count on SH2 by Wairoa Rd is 23,315 vehicles.
Before the trial, the agency recorded 42 per cent of vehicles (100 of 239) accessing SH2 from Te Puna Station Rd, between 7.30am and 8.30am, had left the highway at the Te Puna roundabout, Campbell said.
"This tells us there is a high percentage of drivers who try to use the local road access as a short-cut."
The trial resulted in 50 items of feedback.
Of these, two wanted the changes made permanent, 12 were neutral, and 38 wanted the trial stopped immediately with some claiming additional delays of 50 minutes.
The trial was pulled two days early.
Campbell said the highest hourly average delay was 11 minutes.
Te Puna commuter Tessa Jones said her assessment of the trials was " it made the traffic so much worse".
Jones said the trial added an extra 20 minutes to her daily trip to Tauranga and proved the highway was not equipped to handle the high traffic volume already using it.
"That road has to take all of those trucks getting to the port, commuters, school buses, all the extra housing development at Ōmokoroa. The road was never designed for all of that. They need to design a four-lane highway."
She did not believe the "rat runners" were to blame.
Clarke Rd resident Tony Gilbert said he often used Te Puna Station Rd to travel into town.
For him, it was far safer than using Clarke Rd as people coming towards Te Puna Station Rd had enough time to see him and slow down.
Gilbert said shutting off the roads was not the answer.
"I think they are making a foolish mistake."
Traffic trial details
The trial was carried out from May 14-23 during a high-volume period during the kiwifruit season from 8am to 9am and from 7am to 10am, between Omokoroa Rd and Loop Rd, and between Loop Rd and Cambridge Rd.
Source - NZTA