Western Bay of Plenty District Council is seeking $150 million to make the region's Omokoroa Rd and State Highway 2 intersection safer after being snubbed in last week's $1.4 billion transport fund.
Mayor Garry Webber confirmed the council submitted an expression of interest for the Government's Infrastructure Acceleration Fund. This was a direct response to previously promised funding being pulled, he said.
SmartGrowth supported the application.
Webber said funding for the Ōmokoroa Interchange project had originally been approved through the New Zealand Upgrade Programme, along with four-laning the highway from Te Puna to Ōmokoroa as part of the second stage of the Takitimu North Link.
However, this funding was withdrawn earlier this year and the second stage of the link was not included in last week's $1.4b National Land Transport Plan funding for the Bay of Plenty.
The interchange project would transform the busy, single-lane T-intersection into a grade-separated interchange overbridge.
Webber said the council was counting 6000 vehicles daily on Omokoroa Rd, before the latest Covid-19 lockdown.
The council's new Stage 3 structure plan, which would complete the urban development of the Ōmokoroa peninsula, proposes 2300 dwellings over the next 25 to 30 years. This would boost Ōmokoroa's total population to 12,000.
Webber said Stage 3 included the Ōmokoroa Town Centre, industrial land, primary and secondary schools, and a large active reserve expected to serve the community and provide substantial employment.
"The planned additional 2300 housing units, with our standard eight-vehicle movements per day, will result in 18,400 vehicle movements per day entering SH2 at the Ōmokoroa Rd intersection," Webber said.
"With the Ōmokoroa peninsula to be fully developed and home to an estimated 12,000 residents by 2050 it is vital we cater for this significant growth and the need for continuing improvements to the peninsula's infrastructure and connectivity."
Western Bay councillor and representative for Ōmokoroa Murray Grainger said the council and community were desperate for the interchange for the "black spot".
"I think it is Ōmokoroa's biggest problem and it will get worse. We are growing. We will keep growing."
Grainger said the intersection had missed out on safety upgrades already made to other parts of the highway because such works were expected to be covered under the Takitimu North Link stage 2.
The junction still had dangerous sightlines and people doing "things they shouldn't" out of frustration and impatience while trying to get on to the highway, he said.
SmartGrowth chairman Peter Winder said Tauranga and Western Bay faced "very significant housing shortages, both immediately and over the medium to long-term".
"Accelerating development to meet that demand is also very challenging."
Ōmokoroa was one of the priority areas identified by SmartGrowth and its development was critical to address the housing shortage; delivering the number, type and price points of urgently-needed homes and helping develop connected centres across the sub-region, Winder said.
SmartGrowth endorsed expressions of interest for the Infrastructure Acceleration Fund relating to Te Papa/Cameron Rd; Ōmokoroa; Tauriko West; Wairakei Town Centre; and Parau Farms because each addressed "critical funding for work necessary to accelerate development".
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency director of regional relationships for Bay of Plenty and Waikato David Speirs said the agency was focusing on safety-centred upgrades for the existing SH2 route, including the Ōmokoroa intersection.
The transport agency was committed to a 30 to 70-year plan for integrating growth and transport in the Western Bay and Tauranga.
Transport Minister Michael Wood said the Government would continue to work with local government and others to ensure the land transport system was safe.