Another $13 million will be pumped into redeveloping Cameron Rd, but a transport lobby group has raised concerns that the now $60.5 million project lacks trees.
Tauranga City Council announced yesterday
that it had approved the extra funding on top of the $45 million Crown Infrastructure Partners grant approved last year.
The Bay of Plenty Times has sought clarification about the $2.5m not covered by the grant or funding top-up.
The council said the extra $13m would cover "the nationwide construction sector cost increases which have occurred since the project was approved".
The council said it would also allow for community requests around "connectivity, safety and amenity outcomes" in the project.
The project aims to futureproof Cameron Rd to support a larger population on the Te Papa Peninsula, where the council proposes to allow denser housing - more townhouses and apartments.
The first stage includes peak-hour bus lanes in both directions, a two-way cycleway and walkway improvements, among other changes.
In response to the funding announcement, Greater Tauranga spokesperson Heidi Hughes said it was important to reassess the project and ensure the outcomes would match the extra spending.
Previously, however, the group had flagged its concerns about a lack of trees in final designs released last month.
Responding to a render of the intersection of Third Ave and Cameron Rd, Greater Tauranga spokesperson Sue McArthur said the group was "disappointed" with the grass berms and lack of trees on the sides of the road, which has established trees in the median strip.
McArthur said trees would encourage people to use public transport and shift their dependency away from cars.
"If we can make those transport corridors cool, pleasant and enjoyable, it's going to greatly motivate the travel change choices that people are going to need to make in the future."
McArthur wanted shady trees planted on the side of the road "where there will be people gathering, walking, using public transport and cycling".
"In order for that whole intensification process to be successful, there really does need to be a beautification of that whole area," she said.
McArthur said "many cities in the world" planted trees on the sides of streets which benefited the "movement" and "wellbeing" of people.
"Beautiful street trees are probably the single biggest infrastructure investment a city can make to transform its appearance for the wellbeing of its people.
"Already with the climate crisis we're seeing shrubs and greenery on the sides of roads dying off because it's too dry.
"I think we have a much better opportunity to improve that corridor by planting trees there rather than grass."
She said the project did not take advantage of the opportunity to "really transform Cameron Rd to a really beautiful avenue lined with trees".
"We think it's really lacking at the moment, and we think the council can do a much better job than what they are currently showing us."
Social scientist Carole Gordon said she was "quite passionate" about trees on Cameron Rd after seeing the designs.
"We shouldn't just be talking about a road… we should be talking about the total environment that helps meet our climate change goals in the bigger sense," she said.
"Trees are a carbon sink. They create the oxygen we need. If we really care about people as well as the planet, we need to plant trees."
Gordon said Cameron Rd had the potential to become "a gorgeous boulevard".
"We need to view Cameron Rd as a corridor, not a motorway," she said.
"Then we can consider wider planning issues such as beautification and amenities for people, not just cars."
Tauranga City Council's director of transport Brendan Bisley said trees and plants were a "major feature" in the revitalisation of Cameron Rd and the existing trees were "much loved" by the community.
Plans showed the majority of new plantings would be in the median strip and this area would be the "most likely" to grow mature trees, he said.
"As construction gets underway and landscaping details are finalised, we will continue to review the situation to find the right mix of trees and smaller plants."
Bisley said plants and trees had many benefits including creating spaces that people wanted to spend time in, providing shade and supporting wildlife corridors to help offset urban development.
He said the project was a "significant step" in supporting future growth in Tauranga.
"The upgrades will ensure existing and future communities have greater and safer travel choices to get people where they need to go."
Changes included part-time bus lanes, a new two-way cycleway and improvements to make the area more walkable, attractive and community-friendly, Bisley said.
"This includes native plantings that reflect the history of the area and attract bird life."
Bisley said the council was aware some trees would need to be removed as part of the project but any removals should be "a last resort" and plans should be modified or adjusted "where possible" to ensure as many trees as possible were retained.