There have been mixed reviews of the introduction of a trial traffic system aimed at improving traffic flow from the Maungatapu Underpass.
Some motorists took to social media to complain of heavy traffic backing up on State Highway 29A from the Maungatapu roundabout to the Maungatapu overbridge this morning. Others said traffic was not a problem when they drove through.
The NZ Transport Agency and Tauranga City Council are trialling the closure of the straight-through option from SH29A and Maungatapu Rd across the Maungatapu roundabout to see if it will improve the flow on the highway.
Traffic from SH29A Te Maunga/Baypark wanting to access Maungatapu Rd now has to use the Taipari St off-ramp (after the Maungatapu bridge).
NZTA project manager John McCarthy said the agency and the council were pleased with the first day of the 10-day trial.
Data was being collected on travel times, queue lengths and turning movements.
"As expected, traffic flowed well this morning. However, we recognise it is school holidays, which was part of our plan to familiarise drivers during light traffic in readiness for next week.
"As with any trial, the plan has been to compare the model versus reality and then make adjustments to get the best overall and balanced solution for all traffic accessing the Maungatapu and Hairini area."
A Bay of Plenty Times drive-through of the new route at 8.10am presented zero delays, with traffic moving swiftly and freely.
A reporter that drove through about 7am said she was concerned when she came to a slow-moving queue coming on to the Maungatapu Bridge – unusual for school holidays.
However, the pace picked up as she approached the Maungatapu roundabout.
There was clear signage on the approach directing city traffic to the left lane, though she saw none between the roundabouts and wondered if some drivers might do a U-turn at the Welcome Bay roundabout instead of taking the underpass.
Once through, the loop down to Welcome Bay, through the underpass and over Turret Rd was smooth – smoother than usual, even for school holidays. There was no merging traffic coming down from the top.
The traffic at 15th Ave was also free-flowing at both times.
Key observations include:
Drivers coming from Baypark to the City – Please get into left lane early to travel around and through the underpass. This will be quicker than trying to stay right and turn back towards the City at the Hairini Roundabout. It is also important to avoid blocking lanes for other drivers travelling through to Tauriko.
Drivers from Ohauiti and Tauriko to the City – Please continue to use travel straight through the Hairini roundabout and turn left on to Turret Rd. There is no requirement to go through the underpass.
Source - NZTA