On-the-fly changes are being considered to the Maungatapu Underpass traffic trial.

The 10-day trial began last Thursday, diverting city-bound peak morning SH29A traffic coming from Baypark direction down through the underpass to Turret Rd, instead of across the roundabout.

The result has had mixed reviews, including some positive, but some commuters from Welcome Bay were particularly unhappy with it yesterday morning as schools returned and a long queue formed on the Welcome Bay approach to the underpass.

Welcome Bay-based councillor Bill Grainger, a critic of the trial, said the queue was "nose to tail right down Welcome Bay Rd."


Staff from the NZ Transport Agency and Tauranga City Council met yesterday afternoon to review traffic flow data - including CCTV footage of the intersections from Monday morning - and discuss possible adjustments to the trial.

Tauranga City Council transportation Manager Martin Parkes. Photo/Andrew Warner
Tauranga City Council transportation Manager Martin Parkes. Photo/Andrew Warner

Tauranga City Council transport manager Martin Parkes said one of the ideas they would consider was whether to deactivate a set of lights and allow eastbound SH29A traffic a free turn on to Turret Rd.

"That's the beauty of a trial; we can try things out."

He said some cars had been doing a loop around the Hairini roundabout to avoid the underpass diversion.

Grainger also urged them to look at allowing vehicles with more than two or three people to use Hairini St again, instead of having it just be a bus lane.

Allowing Welcome Bay-bound Ohauiti Rd traffic to make a right turn on to Welcome Bay Rd would also help free up the roundabout, he said.

Parkes said that would be the next option looked at after the trial, but it was more complicated as it would require lights to be installed, and needed to be more thoroughly modelled first.

The trial is due to finish on Friday.


State Highway projects update digest

Alistair Talbot and Rob Campbell from the NZ Transport Agency updated Tauranga City Council's transport committee on several other state highway projects yesterday.

Baypark to Bayfair

In September, northbound traffic will be due to move from the inside lanes to outside lanes currently being constructed on Maunganui Rd around the Girven St intersection.

Project managers were also looking at ways to slow down speeding drivers and improve public transport and cycling options through the works.

Roundabout metering: Elizabeth/Takitimu, Barkes Corner

Special roundabout metering traffic lights to control peak hour traffic will be operational by October - the first of their kind in the Bay of Plenty.

The lights would only operate when queues were forming, holding back traffic on entries to the roundabout with no queue to let more vehicles through from the congested routes.

SH29 Cambridge Road intersection

Two options were being investigated as ways to improve safety and reduce the impact of SH29 peak hour congestion, which made it hard for vehicles to enter and exit Cambridge Rd.

The first option - traffic lights with no changes to the intersection layout - could be done as a minor improvement.

A second option - a T-intersection with two approach lanes on SH29 eastbound, as well as a pedestrian crossing, was too expensive to be done as a short-term improvement.

Tauranga Northern Link

The council was told to expect an update on the NZ Transport Agency's reevaluation of the northern link by early next week, but a final decision on whether the project will proceed may still be months away.

The northern link was one of 12 around New Zealand the agency was reviewing to see if they fit the new Government's transport priorities.