A worker involved in the roadworks at the Ngongotahā roundabout is urging patience after motorists voiced their frustration at traffic disruptions.
Last week, several motorists voiced their concerns to the Rotorua Daily Post, saying the extent of disruption each morning is unpredictable and causing them to be late for work and school in Rotorua.
The work is part of a Waka Kotahi NZTA project aimed at improving the safety of State Highway 5, Tarukenga to Ngongotahā, and congestion at the existing SH5/SH36 roundabout.
Now a worker on the frontline, who wishes to remain anonymous, says some disruption is unavoidable but they are doing all they can to keep traffic flowing.
One reason traffic was backing up through Ngongotahā was cars entering the roundabout from SH36 having to give way to a near-constant stream of cars entering from SH5 from the Hamilton direction.
A set of traffic lights on the SH5 side of the roundabout were installed to help traffic flow more smoothly from both sides, but were not working as planned, he said.
"The traffic lights are too far back from the roundabout," the worker said.
"When they turn orange, a few cars slip through and roll up to the limit line where they have to give way to the right as standard. In the time it takes those cars to get off the limit line into the roundabout, the light behind them goes green again.
"The roundabout doesn't manage well under give-way controls - it never had, which is why we're here managing traffic so they can build a better roundabout. We've actually come up with a solution for that which was used on Friday morning with great success.
"We had stop/go people on the roundabout managing all the other legs of the roundabout so SH36 can get through and then vice versa when those on SH5 need to get through."
Waka Kotahi's regional manager infrastructure delivery, Jo Wilton, told the Rotorua Daily Post that when the project was finished the agency did not expect to have to use the traffic signals as there would be extra lanes to accommodate the traffic, allowing for better flow.
She said the traffic signals would remain but would only be used when there was a significant increase in traffic flow on SH36 and SH5.
"When the traffic signals are in use, Waka Kotahi asks motorists to obey the traffic light signals, as this plays an important part in ensuring smooth traffic flow.
"Following completion of the new roundabout the signal operation will be monitored and we may reassess the location and type of traffic signal being used."
Another complaint from motorists was in relation to traffic building in the other direction, from Rotorua to Ngongotahā, at the end of the day when commuters headed home from work.
The worker said the left-hand side of SH5 leading into the roundabout from Rotorua was being worked on at present meaning every vehicle had to use what used to be the slip lane.
This means all traffic was funnelled through one lane rather than those turning left being able to slip down the side. Until that work was complete, motorists would simply have to be patient.
"That's something we can't do anything about and will probably be like that until about mid-April."
However, he was eager to remind those using the roads that the work being done was "a means to an end". Once complete, the roundabout and the roads leading into it would be safer and there would be added slip lanes to ensure less congestion.
"Once the project is finished, people will forget all about it because they'll be flying straight through," he said.
The worker said he believed that a lot of the complaints about the delays in traffic were down to motorists' "sheer frustration".
"We're doing all we can to make sure everything runs smoothly and people get to where they are going on time, as much as possible ... we have traffic engineers watching from Hamurana and they have quite advanced software monitoring delays."
"As anticipated, it has taken a few days for people to get used to the new layout, but the delays during peak hours were more than we had expected. We apologise for the delays and queuing that is being experienced," Wilton said.
"Every morning and evening traffic queuing is monitored by site staff. We have staff on-site and staff driving the route during peak travel times. They are capturing and logging this information. At the moment, morning delays vary from 10 to 20 minutes. Afternoon peak leaving Rotorua is heavy and can be up to 30 minutes, depending on the time.
She said traffic flows were also monitored by software called "Traffic Watcher".
The data shows peaks that do correlate to delays being experienced on the SH5 sites.
Google traffic is also used to monitor traffic flows and length of queues. Google traffic can be accessed by anyone, it is a public tool, she said.
"While we are doing our best to minimise delays, we are telling motorists to expect delays when travelling through the site between 7.30am and 8.30am and again between 4.30pm and 5.30pm, Monday to Thursday. On Fridays we expect travel to build earlier from 3.30pm to 5.30pm.
"We suggest road users plan ahead and avoid the SH5/SH36 intersection at peak times if at all possible."