A $45 million Government grant to help transform one of Tauranga's main arterial routes is expected to create at least 200 jobs.
Tauranga City Council announced Friday it had been successful in a bid for funding to upgrade Cameron Rd's commuting corridor, and improvements are expected to help enable longer-term development in the Te Papa peninsula.
Such improvements include a separated cycleway, peak commute time bus clearways, intersection improvements, and new footpaths.
The changes will focus on the 3km stretch of Cameron Rd that runs from 17th Ave and the CBD.
Mayor Tenby Powell said in a press release the funding would provide the city with an "absolute shot in the arm which will propel progress in Tauranga".
"... This project alone will deliver 200-plus jobs in construction and professional services in the short-term, with a second wave of employment to follow via the housing and commercial development facilitated by the infrastructure investment."
The project would be a catalyst for progress, enabling housing intensification and promoting transport choice, he said.
"In essence, this will put in place the first major building blocks for urban growth in this part of the city, which over the next three decades, could result in around 19,000 additional homes for 29,000 additional residents, and allow the creation of employment hubs providing for up to 15,000 additional jobs."
The funding comes from the Government's $3 billion Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) economic stimulus which prioritises "shovel-ready" projects.
The council now has a year to complete a design of the improvements and consult with the wider community before physical work begins in mid-2021.
Ratepayers' $5.5m bill to fight council over apartment defects
Work under way to address Whareroa Marae health concerns
No 'cock-fighting': Council 'acting like babies' despite $36k lakeside leadership course
Bike Tauranga's Kevin Kerr applauded the funding, saying the improvements to Cameron Rd would help bring the city in line with other modern cities overseas.
"That's a key corridor we are talking about," he said.
"It's highly used with people biking into town and with the future developments planned for the Te Papa peninsula, it's extremely necessary."
"The whole idea of urban intensification is that people don't have to use cars. Whether they walk, bike or use public transport, those are the three modes of transport that are going to be addressed and everyone can benefit from that."
Kerr said Tauranga's CBD simply did not have enough space for parking and the city needed to offer attractive alternative options. Now it would be able to.
Sustainable Business Network regional manager Glen Crowther said he was "cautiously enthusiastic".
"I think it's fantastic ... But the real important piece of work that needs to be done is to ensure there is absolutely top-notch engagement with the community," Crowther said.
"Cameron Rd has been there for so many years, so many people use it, we've got to get this one right."
Crowther, who has been involved as a stakeholder in the early stages of the project, said he believed the improvements would provide the city with a great facility.
"The biggest thing is it will take away some of the downsides for people currently trying to use that road. Sometimes it can be quite challenging as a pedestrian, it can be perceived as very dangerous for people on bikes and for people on buses there's some frustration at peak time congestion.
"But in the years to come, we will see the value of doing this, so long as they make sure it works for people who are currently using it."
Greater Tauranga's Heidi Hughes said the funding was "really significant".
Hughes, who is also a city councillor, said the upgrades to the road would become an anchor point to changing the way Tauranga people got around.
"The thing with Cameron Rd is all the arterial links that come out of there, all of the schools ... long term, it means a safer, vibrant, connected city," she said.
Hughes said the focus now needed to shift from gaining funding for the project to the design and potential impact on Cameron Rd businesses, schools and residents.
Council infrastructure general manager Nic Johansson said in the statement the council would likely begin calling for tenders early next year. The works were expected to be completed by September 2023.
It is expected that bus clearways would transition to dedicated bus lanes within five to 10 years of the project's completion.
Johansson said aspects of the work had already been the subject of a community engagement process with key business and other stakeholders over the past 18 months, and the wider community would also be consulted as the plans progress.
Significant project components include:
• Peak commute period bus clearways and intersection improvements to enhance public transport reliability.
• High-quality bus stops, bus shelters and messaging infrastructure.
• Separated cycleway and "micro-mobility spine" between Tauranga Hospital and the city centre.
• Side-street improvements and placemaking initiatives.
• Intersection and safety improvements, including new traffic signals.
• Pedestrian crossing improvements.
• Central median and kerb adjustments to support the new road layout.
• Pavement renewals.
• Stormwater improvements.