Major changes are coming to 15th Ave from next week as Tauranga City Council aims to improve traffic flows on one of the city's major arterial routes.
Works include adding traffic lights at the road's intersection with Burrows St, creating a bus and T3 lane, closing the exit from Grace Rd onto 15th Ave on the northern side, closing the Turret Rd slip road, introducing a shared walkway/cycleway that links to Mayfair St, and adding an extra lane between Fraser St and Mayfair St.
Construction of these works will begin on July 22.
Acting manager of transportation, Phil Consedine, said 15th Ave is the main link between the city and Welcome Bay, Maungatapu, Hairini and Ōhauiti and morning and evening peaks times were busy on this road.
Consedine said the side roads and intersections on 15th Ave caused the biggest disruption to travel times.
"With the stage 1 works, we aim to reduce travel time in the evening peak by adding a new traffic lane between Fraser St and Mayfair St.
"Additionally, the works will result in a safer path for people on foot and bikes to get along the 15th Avenue network."
Stage 1 is expected to be completed in early 2020.
The key elements of the Stage 1 improvements are:
• One new southeast-bound traffic lane between Fraser St and Mayfair St to give the 15th Ave/Fraser St intersection a better chance to clear in the afternoons
• One new northwest-bound lane between Mayfair St and Scantlebury St for T3 and bus use
• Installation of traffic lights at the Burrows St/15th Ave intersection to manage interruptions from the side roads and to allow for safe crossing of the road
• Closure of the exit from the northern side of Grace Rd onto 15th Ave. This will prevent traffic from merging into 15th Ave and disrupting the flow of traffic. The southern side of 15th Ave and Grace Rd remains the same
• Closure of the Turret Rd slip lane to give people driving on the main road a clear run onto the causeway
• Introduction of a shared pathway that links to the Mayfair St shared path so more people can bike safely between the outer suburbs and the city.
15th Ave will stay open during the works, but delays are expected during the project. Residents and businesses in the area may encounter some disruption.
Consedine said users should continue using 15th Ave during construction as this would help minimise disruption to the surrounding network.
"By using 15th Ave, it also enables a continual flow of traffic along this road."
Currently, the NZ Transport Agency has not provided funding for construction of the stage 1 works during the 2018-21 National Land Transport Programme.
To bridge the gap in the meantime, Tauranga City Council has agreed to finance this project through a rates-funded loan so that it can go ahead.
Consedine said 15th Ave is one of Tauranga's top five most congested roads, so the council needed to step in and get the work underway.
Further works for stage 2 were scheduled after the NZ Transport Agency's Baypark to Bayfair Link project is completed.
These works are yet to be confirmed, but may involve:
• Traffic lights at the 13th Ave/Fraser St and 17th Ave/Fraser St intersections. The improvements to these intersections will occur as a first step of Stage 2. Traffic modelling work is being done to determine how the traffic lights will operate and their impact on the wider road network in this area
• Carpooling and bus lanes to help make bus trips more reliable between the city and Welcome Bay, Maungatapu, Hairini and Ohauiti
• Separated shared pathways to offer a safe bike journey into the city.