Plans to create a safer environment for cyclists on a stretch of road identified as having a "significantly higher risk of serious injury or death" is expected to result in delays and traffic queues extending beyond 2 kilometres.
An $8.4 million safety upgrade on Totara St will be decided on in a Tauranga City Council meeting on Tuesday.
Elected members will decide whether to proceed with Totara St Safety Improvement Business Case that would effectively remove cyclists from the busy road by constructing a shared cycleway path.
The business case report said conflict between heavy commercial vehicles and cyclists led to a high incidence of deaths and serious injuries for vulnerable road users.
In May this year cyclist Graeme Shallcrass, 62, died in a collision with a truck at the intersection of Totara and Maui Sts. His death follows that of Kevin Ackroyd, 74, in April 2018 who died in a collision between his scooter and a truckk near the Waimarie St intersection.
"Totara St has a higher than average risk of death or serious injury being sustained by a vulnerable road user compared to other corridors of the same length in New Zealand," the report said.
The report also detailed traffic modelling that tested the impact of a signalised cyclist crossing at the left-turn slip lane on Hewletts Rd, which was "important given that the Tauranga Harbour Bridge currently caters for more than 400 cyclist[s] per day".
The result was queue lengths being extended by 500m - taking them to 2.15km - where the bridge meets the Te Papa peninsula. The resulting delay is an additional 1.7 minutes in a worst-case scenario.
A Port of Tauranga spokeswoman said it was concerned about the potential impact the safety upgrade could have on port-bound traffic.
"We understand the council's desire to take urgent action, but we would still like to see a comprehensive long-term solution."
The spokeswoman said there was no change to the port's ultimate desire to see Totara St made a state highway. Doing so could help speed up Government funding.
If approved, the project is expected to result in up to 130 new cyclists per day and 62 per cent of these new cyclists were likely to have driven a car before.
The cost of the project had inflated from previous estimates of $7m to $8.4m, largely due to increased costs of traffic management, hedge relocation and additional signalised crossings. The council's contribution increased from $3.41m to $4.1m. Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is expected to pay the rest.
In the past six weeks the council had met with businesses, sent about 1000 letters to residents and sought feedback across social media in an effort to gauge commuters' views. The consultation comes as the council also engaged Bike Tauranga, Port of Tauranga, Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
Council director of transport Brendan Bisley said they found 82 per cent of feedback supported the safety improvements.
Another 36 per cent supported the cycleway with suggestions on improvements, 28 per cent suggested alternative solutions and 18 per cent disagreed with it.
"We want to make sure Totara St is safe and suitable for everyone that uses it. The narrowness of the road, people on bikes and the increasing number of heavy vehicles has already proven to be a dangerous mix. The planned shared path provides a safer route for those on bikes, and reduces the risk of an accident between them and trucks," Bisley said.
Tauranga Pool and Spa's Peter Evans said he agreed that something needed to be done to make it safer for cyclists but he was apprehensive about the impact the path could have on access and parking for his business.
"I can understand bringing it in, absolutely, but how are they going to do it and how it will affect us?"
He said seeing heavy trucks in the same space as cyclists was "frightening".
"I wouldn't want to be a cyclist."
Eze Feedz owner Jaz Hayward also supported the safety plans but felt the shared path needed to be on the west side of the street to minimise what would become a "huge disturbance" to eastern-side businesses such as hers.
"I want cyclists to feel safe and to feel part of the traffic and community on this road. I don't believe having a shared cycleway lane on this side of the road is the way to incorporate them."
Hayward operates a food truck near Hull Rd and said most businesses on the eastern side of the street, like hers, were retail and attracted different customers daily. By comparison, businesses on the western side, in her opinion, attracted regular clientele "who are the same people, same trucks, every day".
Hayward said the western side also had fewer roads and driveways for cyclists to navigate so, in her mind, it made sense to place the shared path there.
Fancy Tucker owner Erich Huber said he fully supported the idea of creating a path for cyclists.
"I will get some parking spaces because they will close off the entrance so it will be cleaner. I'm for it. It will be good."
The safety upgrade is expected to take three years.
Earlier this week, the plans had been labelled a game-changer by cycling advocates.
Bike Tauranga's Andrew Thorpe said there had been strong discussion about which side of the road the shared path should be on but the group took in good faith that a route on the western side was not possible.
It is understood this is due to the increased risk of conflict between cyclists and heavy commercial vehicles.