A former Rotorua mayor says roadworks on Te Ngae Rd could be completed faster and has expressed his fears for the impact of the works on nearby businesses.
Business owners say the work is having an impact and are dissatisfied with the level of communication about the work from Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).
The council says it is comfortable the work is being done as fast as possible, and NZTA says it is working hard to minimise disruption and communicate with businesses and residents.
Former mayor Grahame Hall told Local Democracy Reporting on Tuesday he believed work on the Eastern Corridor could be done faster.
He said crews working on site appeared to be minimal and the council could do more to lobby for the work to be carried out quicker.
He had "serious concerns" for businesses and residents on Rotorua's east side and said they shouldn't have to "put up" with the roadworks for a year.
It is expected work on Te Ngae Rd will finish in late 2021.
"It needs to get finished."
Hall, who lives on the east side of the city, said he also had fears for safety, especially around the Te Ngae Rd roundabout, as winter approached with more rain and less light.
Rotovegas Boxing Gym co-owner Aaron Warren said the impact of the roadworks on his business was "ludicrous" and in his opinion, Waka Kotahi NZTA was not communicating well with businesses in the area.
"We're struggling for [car] parks. [Waka Kotahi contractors] are putting cones up everywhere and not even communicating. It's just odd. It doesn't look to me like they care about businesses."
He said a lot of Rotovegas members came from the other side of town and it had taken them as long as 40 minutes to get from Pak'nSave on Fenton St to the gym due to delays he believed were caused by the roadworks.
"I just want it done, I want some action. I wish [Waka Kotahi] would just come and show some respect to all the businesses and come and see me. It's pretty rude."
He said he had received email updates from the transport agency but he preferred face-to-face contact about what was planned, not what had already been done.
Carter's Tyre Service co-owner Mark Fisher said the roadworks had been "damaging" to his business.
It had disrupted entrances to Carter's and confused prospective customers, he said.
He said the business was usually "flat out as hell" but had become a lot quieter since roadworks began as some customers felt it was "in the too-hard basket" to get to his premises on the northern side of the Te Ngae Rd roundabout.
Fisher said he received updates from NZTA contractors about what had been completed but he didn't believe he was being kept up to date with planned works.
On Wednesday, Rotorua Lakes Council infrastructure manager Stavros Michael said the council was comfortable Waka Kotahi NZTA was "well-placed" to manage the Te Ngae Rd project.
"We are in constant contact and working together to ensure the works are completed as soon as is physically possible."
He said the council was "very aware" of the impact infrastructure works could have on business and the wider community.
The council was always working closely with Waka Kotahi to ensure all that could be done to minimise those impacts was being done, he said.
Waka Kotahi NZTA acting infrastructure delivery regional manager Jo Wilton said the $17 million project, called Eastern Corridor Stage One, was an "important project for the city" and part of a wider programme to "future-proof" Rotorua's key state highways.
It was aimed at improving the safety and efficiency of the road, as well as providing more walking and cycling options.
Constructing major roading projects on busy state highways was a "huge challenge" and required very careful planning, she said.
"The construction programme is put together with the aim of completing the work as quickly as possible while minimising the effect on the community."
She said there were multiple worksites live on the corridor to complete the work on time, and it had also been adapted in response to last year's Covid-19 lockdowns.
"We have also faced challenges with underground services, and have worked incredibly hard to ensure this has not added to the completion timeframe for this project.
"To complete this project faster would mean a greater impact on road users and businesses."
Waka Kotahi NZTA was working closely with the businesses on the corridor throughout construction and adapted its programme, where possible, in response to their feedback, she said.
"The programme has been planned to ensure major works are completed ahead of the winter months.
"The four-laning of Allen Mills to Iles Rd will be completed next month, and the upgrade of the Tarawera Rd intersection is scheduled to be complete by the end of May. The remaining work on the corridor is expected to have a minor impact on road users."
She said Waka Kotahi worked hard to minimise disruption to traffic, residents and businesses and encouraged anyone with concerns to raise them with the project team directly.
She said Waka Kotahi was in "regular contact" with businesses on the Stage One corridor, including weekly updates about works completed and planned work for the week ahead.
"These updates include an invitation to contact us with any questions or concerns. We visit businesses in person when significant work is planned nearby, and to respond to any requests for face-to-face meetings."
Waka Kotahi had also invited businesses and stakeholders to information sessions for the project, she said. The last event for businesses and stakeholders specifically had been held in September 2020.
She said all businesses had been invited to attend public information sessions - the first of which was held at the Millennium Hotel on Wednesday morning.