NZTA has admitted to Tauranga City Council that the traffic lights erected at Barkes Corner last month were "confusing" and accidents happened after the lights were installed.

NZTA project manager John McCarthy told a meeting of Tauranga City Council's transportation committee this afternoon that the agency acknowledged the lights had "confused some drivers".

"As we know the lights confused some drivers and we had accidents quickly after it opened.

"Fundamentally, the lights were probably too close to the roundabout so they are going to be pulled back now."


Councillor Larry Baldock said the situation was "embarrassing" and chastised the agency for a lack of communication with councillors before installing the lights.

"People think it's [the council]."

"When you started putting the lights up it was pretty obvious there would be some problems."

He said lights were also needed on SH29A approaching the roundabout from The Lakes to allow more traffic to enter the roundabout from Cameron Rd.

"When I take Cameron Rd, it's 15 to 20 minutes from Chadwick Rd to Barkes corner. A 20-minute delay for people getting home is not acceptable."

The NZ Transport Agency expects to have the traffic lights at SH29A Barkes Corner back in operation within the next four weeks, following changes to the roundabout metering system.

The green light will be removed from the traffic lights, and more sets of traffic lights and signage added on Pyes Pa Road and SH29A westbound.

When traffic builds on one of the roads the lights will activate by turning amber then red.

The red lights will stop the vehicles for between 30 seconds and one minute, allowing traffic from the busiest road to enter the roundabout. When the red light turns off, traffic can approach the roundabout.

Standard give way rules apply when entering the roundabout, even if drivers have stopped at the red light first. When no amber or red light is showing vehicles can approach the roundabout in the normal way.

"It is important to reinforce to drivers that standard give way rules apply when entering the roundabout, even if drivers have stopped at the red light first," NZTA's Bay of Plenty Transport System manager Rob Campbell says.

The roundabout metering began operating on September 17, however, the traffic lights were turned off on September 20 due to safety concerns.


The sets of lights (not the poles) were removed from October 5.

Campbell said most people were navigating the new lights at the roundabout well.

"However, we recognised it was not intuitive enough for all road users, and as such, we turned them off, and will make improvements.

"Barkes Corner is a critical intersection for people in Tauranga and we recognise that it is important that it operates both efficiently and safely," Campbell says.

New Zealand design guidelines state that roundabout metering lights require a green phase. A process has been initiated to now allow this project to operate differently with just the amber and red lights used as they do in parts of Australia.

The changes will be trialled for 12 to 18 months. NZTA will collect data to analyse improvement in journey times.

Groundworks have started on the roundabout metering at SH2 Elizabeth St roundabout. Traffic lights will be installed on the SH2 northbound approach to improve the traffic flow in the morning peak.

The roundabout metering project at Elizabeth St will incorporate the changes that will be made at Barkes Corner.

The current total project cost for both roundabouts is currently $850,000. It's not yet known if the changes can be made within the existing project budget.