The wheels have stopped on one of Tauranga's biggest transportation investments - the Harington Street Transport Hub - as city leaders confirm major issues with the seven-storey structure. Kiri Gillespie investigates - and discovers there is some strong reaction to the news.
A disaster. Frustrating. A tremendous shame.
This is some of the reaction after the building of Tauranga's much-anticipated $24 million CBD transport hub was stopped because of construction problems.
Tauranga City Council announced in September the project would be stopped after the discovery seismic joints used were not up to standard. A subsequent review concluded the foundations needed strengthening.
The Harington Street Transport Hub development was originally expected to have been finished by early next year. But the seven-storey project is now not expected to be finished until at least mid-2020.
The facility was expected to include 250 parking spaces for cyclists, 53 for motorbikes, 535 carparks, 15 mobility parks, electric charge points for cars and e-bikes, and showers and lockers.
The council was now trying to work out how to fix the problems, which followed issues with other city projects such as the Durham St revamp.
Newly elected Tauranga councillor Heidi Hughes, who represented transport advocacy group Greater Tauranga, said the news was "hugely disappointing".
"This was one project we thought: 'At least it will be done, we can tick it off, it seemed quite straight forward'."
Hughes met with mayor Tenby Powell and had been briefed on the situation.
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She said while the hub was not critical to alleviating city congestion, it would have helped get people out of cars.
Powell said the delay was regrettable and inconvenient.
It was not known when a report into the issue was expected to be finished but "we want it sooner rather than later", Powell said.
"There are some big decisions we will have to make as a consequence of that, such as remediation and the cost of remediation and all of those things.
"I'm really sad about this ... it's a tremendous shame not to be able to continue its construction. We are faced with some pretty big remedial work but until the report, we don't really know exactly how big that is."
The council was committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes were achieved for the city and ratepayers, he said.
Powell also said giving people alternative options to private vehicle use was important to ease the city's congestion.
Bike Tauranga's Kevin Kerr said the delays were "frustrating".
"Again? From a cyclist perspective, we looked forward to that hub. There are more and more people wanting to commute to town on bikes. Our group is always talking to [the] council about safer routes but we need a destination point at the end that's also safe," he said.
Retailer Bill Campbell, who owned Fancy That, said: "It's a disaster for the council, it's a disaster for the CBD - the extra parking would have been a bonus."
Campbell said he believed providing for more cars was important because motorists spent more money than cyclists.
The reaction came after the council confirmed in a statement Friday afternoon the project had been stalled after an independent review found the seismic joints in the structure's foundations were "not up to standard".
The Bay of Plenty Times had since asked the council how much the review cost, what the options were to solve the issues, when the council would decide on the solution, when the foundations and joints were installed, and how and when were the issues brought to the council's attention.
The council was yet to respond to these queries.
It was unclear who would be investigating the issues with the building.
A spokeswoman for structural engineers Harrison Grierson told the Bay of Plenty Times the company was still "working through the issues identified and potential solutions with the council".
"The review process has determined that some building foundations require strengthening. We are working closely with Tauranga City Council on a solution, and that involves currently considering design changes. We remain committed to delivering a design solution as soon as possible."
In May, Harrison Grierson informed the council that design changes were needed, mostly related to seismic joints. In August, the council's general manager of infrastructure, Nic Johansson, said during a previous concrete pour at the site, a beam was seen twisting but structural engineers confirmed the building's safety had not been compromised.
A subsequent independent review, led by independent structural consultants Holmes Consulting, confirmed the council's concerns.
Any solution would be presented to the council before proceeding further.
Other Tauranga council projects with issues
Later this month, Tauranga City Council will officially open a new-look Durham St, six months after a major upgrade was meant to have been completed and $3 million over its original $6.9m budget. Businesses blamed the Durham St upgrade for driving them, and customers, out of the area into new locations.
Last year, the council reviewed roading layout changes in Greerton following heavy criticism that the safety-driven changes on Cameron Rd made traffic worse, significantly impacting businesses and residents. The council has also copped criticism for its handling of the Te Papa o Nga Manu Porotakataka (former Phoenix carpark) project and the Welcome Bay Lane redesign.
A report by consultant Max Pedersen, released in April, criticised the council's culture and project management in general, and project budgeting and community consultation in particular.