The popular underpass at Mount Maunganui's Bayfair intersection will be no longer by the end of this month as a new pedestrian crossing is installed on State Highway 2.
The Bay of Plenty Times can today reveal the underpass, which has been at the centre of protest and Government attention, will be demolished from August 24 as works on the $146 million Baypark to Bayfair project continue.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency portfolio delivery manager Darryl Coalter said since the first phase of the pedestrian crossing was implemented in February, design of the new underpass had meant the new crossing needed to move north about 50m.
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The new crossing will stretch across all lanes on SH2/Maunganui Rd as the existing underpass closes. Demolition of the underpass will clear the way for construction of a new version.
"Removing pedestrians from this area enables the team to undertake more extensive work in this zone related to the ground improvements, bridge abutments for the Bayfair flyover and construction of the new underpass," Coalter said.
The new crossing will be located between entrances three and four to the Bayfair Shopping Centre on the southbound side of SH2 and along from Golf 360 on the northbound (Matapihi) side.
Initial delays should be expected while people adjust to the new layout, Coalter said.
The footpath on the northbound side will be extended to connect with the new temporary signalised crossing. A marked route through the Bayfair carpark and alongside the shopping centre will connect pedestrians with Girven Rd.
"An independent safety team has reviewed the crossing design and we will be reinstating the safety escorts for the first two weeks as an additional safety measure."
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The safety escorts will be located at the crossing for two weeks from Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm, and Saturday to Sunday, 9am to 4pm. Cyclists will be required to dismount prior to crossing for their safety, and that of pedestrians and other road users.
A temporary 30km/h speed limit will apply in the area for the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and road workers.
Bayfair Underpass Alliance chairman Philip Brown said he was glad to learn there would be safety escorts but felt they should be in place for four weeks, not two.
"It's a shame that pedestrians now have to walk up the road to cross, it's definitely a concern trying to cross four lanes. That's high-volume traffic that may not be travelling as slow as they should."
The transport agency previously stated that trying to include the underpass was not feasible as it would have cost an additional $33m. However, after community protest and "extensive investigations" the transport agency found a design expected to cost $26m, $2m of which would be funded by Tauranga City Council.
Community upset also prompted instruction last year from Transport Minister Phil Twyford to Waka Kotahi to better consult with the community regarding the future of the underpass.