Gridlock
Traffic congestion has been identified as Tauranga's No. 1 issue.

This week we have spoken to businesses that have changed their operations in response to the congestion. Parents have told us of their struggle to transport themselves and their children to work and school.

Some people blame the lack of transport infrastructure. Others blame people's ability to change their mindsets and embrace alternative transport options.

In the final part of our series, we ask Tauranga transport and city leaders for their thoughts about what steps are needed to address the worsening congestion in and around the city.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless

"I think there are some areas where roading improvements are the solution, and we've got to look in particular at the construction of local roads and state highways such as Tauriko, Barkes Corner, the completion of the 15th Ave [four-laning], but at the same time if we don't change our travel habits [roads] will fill up again with several thousand more people coming here every year, and that's cars as well."

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless says traffic is now the city's number one priority.

Tauranga MP and leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges

"We need to keep building the network; we haven't finished that job yet.

"The priorities are out at Tauriko where we need a serious solution – that would be grade separated and a big job – then probably the Pāpāmoa East interchange on the Tauranga Eastern Link to get people into work, and then a series of internal roads such as Hewletts Rd.

"That probably needs a big solution that would be expensive, but something needs to be done there. Less of an issue but over time as well: Turret Rd. They are all projects that need to happen. That's for sure.

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"The cold reality is that mums and dads still need cars to get kids to sports practices, you still need a van to get tradies to building sites, so finishing the roads has got to be the priority."

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber

"We need [central government] to get on with the projects that they know are absolutely critical for this sub-region: State Highway 2, Tauranga Northern Link, Tauriko interchange, Ōmokoroa interchange – projects people have been talking about for 10 years now.

"We need them to enable us to allow even more houses to be built."

Greater Tauranga spokeswoman Heidi Hughes

"The solutions would be a combined agency plan for multi-modal transport solutions.

"So, looking at how we can optimise usage of our buses, usage of rail, usage of bikes.

"Looking at active transport and making it cheaper and getting the community on board with it and not having it developed by the council and then having the community take it on with all of its flaws.

"We need to have the community develop the plan with the council. The community knows what they need and that model has been shown to really improve things overseas.

"If you get the community involved in creating the solutions, then they are more invested in the process rather than coming up with a plan, then consulting with the community once you have already decided."

Transport Minister Phil Twyford

"We know that just doing business as usual and building more motorways isn't going to cut it in Tauranga. Our Government is investing more than ever before in transport projects in the Bay of Plenty to help ease congestion.

"We are tooling up a Housing and Urban Development Authority to cut through the red tape and lead large-scale master-planned urban development projects that build whole communities at scale and pace.

"We are also working on alternative infrastructure funding and financing models to help unlock better urban growth.

"The Government will be working very closely with the private sector through both of these initiatives to help fast-track developments and to make sure we're taking a joined-up approach to growing cities out with adequate transport links."

NZ Transport Agency, Bay of Plenty systems manager Rob Campbell

"The road network in and around Tauranga is over capacity more often. This trend will continue as more people bring cars into the city.

"We're seeing significant delays caused by relatively small traffic events, which highlights just how sensitive the network has become. Delivering an effective multi-modal transport system is a challenge and it will take time.

"With that in mind, we are constantly monitoring our networks and are working through how to best deliver the Government's new transport priorities with our local and regional council partners.

"We encourage people to consider how and when they travel so that we can all be part of the long-term solution."

Urban Form and Transport Development committee chairman Larry Baldock, Tauranga City Council

"There are no quick fix solutions ... and over the last 25 years, significant investment in a car-based transport network has occurred in Tauranga.

"Unfortunately, investment in other modes has lagged behind. The current Government have given clear direction that transport projects with a mainly car-based focus will not be looked upon favourably for funding.

"Unfortunately, this does not take into account of our city hosting the nation's largest port and the growth of our city, which requires above average residential development.

"Both these activities place more pressure on our roads, and the resulting congestion cannot be resolved by modal shift alone. A log for export cannot travel on a bicycle and tradespeople cannot take a bus between their many locations for work.

"Where appropriate, council and the NZ Transport Agency will still invest in new roads, but this investment will aim to deliver a balanced multi-modal transport network providing people with a range of transport choices to help them move as easily as possible around the city."