Plans to reopen a popular Tauranga slip-lane are expected to cost ratepayers close to $80,000.
Concept designs and emails obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times reveal plans to regain access to Welcome Bay Lane, on Welcome Bay Rd, eight months after it was closed.
The council aims to reopen the eastern entrance of Welcome Bay Lane at a more acute angle to Welcome Bay Rd, forcing traffic to slow to a safe speed before turning or giving way to cyclists.
In emails, acting general manager of infrastructure Martin Parkes explained to Beca consultants council staff were directed by councillors to undertake a review of the Welcome Bay Lane situation "with the explicit outcome that Welcome Bay Ln will be open to general traffic as soon as possible".
"This direction has been given despite concerns raised by staff about safety, particularly for people on bikes."
Traffic would need to be slowed to a 50km/h limit and a tight turn left created to help keep cyclists safe, which "might create a nose-to-tail problem but some high friction anti-skid surfacing on the approach ... might help".
Parkes described the potential reopening of the slip lane as "the tricky bit".
Estimated costs of Beca's involvement are $28,000. This is a 50 per cent cost share between the council and New Zealand Transport Agency for an independent review and concept designs only.
Another $39,500, funded by ratepayers, is expected to be spent on an additional independent review by consultancy firm Aurecon. This follows $16,500 already spent on a safety audit by Viastrada.
The Viastrada report highlighted 25 dangers as part of the Maungatapu Underpass. Of this, 12 related to the safety of cyclists and potential cyclist and car collisions were cited as "a major concern".
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In total, the council's estimated contribution towards reopening Welcome Bay Lane was expected to be $77,625, with external review work not yet complete, said council communications manager Aimee Driscoll.
"It is important to emphasise our over-arching drive to contribute to liveable communities that are connected to the place they work, live and play. Due to the growth of Tauranga including the Welcome Bay area, there is a challenge to continue to meet these needs of our local communities with our transport infrastructure."
The Aurecon report is expected to be formally presented to the Projects Services and Operations Committee on Tuesday.
Access to Welcome Bay Lane was closed in September 2018, three months after it opened, after the Bay of Plenty Times highlighted concerns for cyclist safety. It has remained closed since, much to the ire of Welcome Bay residents.
Welcome Bay ward representative Bill Grainger was among councillors pushing for the lane to be re-opened, despite safety concerns.
Grainger said the amount of time the lane has been closed was "ridiculous" and residents were over it.
"We want something done as soon as possible in Tauranga to get traffic moving."
Parkes has previously said traffic modelling of the area showed little impact on traffic congestion as a result of the lane being closed.
Timeline of Welcome Bay's traffic woes
■ June 22, 2018: Maungatapu Underpass opens to traffic.
■ June 25, 2018: The Turret Rd access from Hairini St is closed due
to concerns about drivers' safety.
■ July 31, 2018: Welcome Bay cyclists raise concerns someone will
be killed at the Welcome Bay Rd and Welcome Bay Ln intersection,
where a cycle lane cuts across a free turn.
■ August 22, 2018: An independent safety review of the $45m
Maungatapu Underpass is commissioned by Tauranga City Council.
■ September 28, 2018: Access to Welcome Bay Ln is closed to
traffic, following concerns from cyclists.
■ October 15, 2018: The safety review highlighted 25 concerns
involving the Maungatapu Underpass, prompting the future closer
of access to Welcome Bay Ln until alternative options are found.
■ December 1, 2018: Motorists caught on camera mounting the verge to drive around the cordon and up Welcome Bay Ln, sparking concern from residents
■ March 26, 2019: Frustrated Welcome Bay driver, and cyclist, Alan Ryan prepares to arrange a group to physically remove the cordon but is warned by police it would be a criminal offence to do so.