Big changes to one of Rotorua's busiest roads will mean it will be safer but slower.
Critics say the changes will put too much emphasis on cyclists for the sake of precious car parks while others say the changes can't come soon enough as it's just sheer luck someone hasn't been killed.
About $22 million will be spent on improvements to Rotorua's State Highway 30a/Amohau St from Old Taupō Rd To Sala St, known as the Central Corridor.
Among those happy about the changes are Rotorua Boys' High School, with those there saying they are thrilled because currently hundreds of students risk their lives every day crossing the busy four lanes outside the school.
Also pleased are the family of a girl who was knocked unconscious by a logging truck on
the bend by Trade Central three years ago.
Details of the design, which follow years of consultation, have been released this week.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency acting portfolio delivery manager Jo Wilton said the upgrades would focus on improving access and safety.
"Key objectives of this project include making the city centre safer and more accessible for pedestrians, cyclists and other alternative transport users, as well as preparing the corridor for its future function as a local road, instead of a state highway. This shift in priorities will likely result in slower travel for vehicles."
The design includes a new shared path on both sides of the road, safety improvements to key intersections, new signalised pedestrian crossings and upgrading existing crossing points.
One of the big changes will be to Pukuatua St, where traffic coming from the central city won't be able to turn right on to State Highway 30 and merge with traffic heading towards Old Taupō Rd. It will be left in and left out only.
There will also be a solid median from the Old Taupō Rd end to the entrance at Kmart.
Slip lanes will also be removed on Old Taupō Rd to Pukuatua St and at State Highway 30a and Hinemaru St, which Wilton said was designed to slow traffic down for safety reasons.
There will be several more raised crossings, and parking along State Highway 30a/Amohau St between Amohia St and Tutanekai St will be removed to make way for a new double cycle lane in front of Rotorua Central Mall.
Wilton said parking was being removed to make space for the new on-road cycle lanes.
"Originally, it was proposed that parking from both sides of the road be removed, however based on feedback from retailers we retained parking on the northern side.
"People will also still have access to Rotorua Central Mall parking, directly behind the southern side of Amohau St as well as parking on side streets."
Rotorua Boys' High School principal Chris Grinter said he was pleased with the changes and he appreciated the consultation, which the school had been involved with.
"I am really pleased with the design. It's finally captured the wishes of the school to have a signalised crossing on Pukuatua St for the boys who flood across those busy four lanes. We have had accidents but to date, it is very lucky. It's a serious accident waiting to happen."
He said the fact no one had been killed "won't be the case forever".
"I'm glad they're not waiting for a fatality (to make changes)."
Grinter said it was very hard to cross those four lanes safely and the students often had to do it, to use the fields across the road for sport, go to Mataatua Marae and walk to the Aquatic Centre.
Pere Paul and his whānau have called for changes on that stretch of road since their daughter, Te Paea Waetford Heketa, was hit by a logging truck in 2017.
The truck driver was able to slam on his brakes, narrowly escaping running over the teen.
Despite being knocked out, Te Paea suffered just grazes and bruises after stepping on to Amohau St by Trade Central in front of the truck.
Her papa, Paul, said he was thrilled to hear the news of the changes, especially to the corner near the Top 10 Holiday Park.
"It will stop merging traffic going across each other."
Paul said he and his wife, Shelley, thought of the incident often.
Te Paea carries her koro's name, who died in 1999, and Paul said they felt he was looking over her that day.
"Shelley and I talk about it a lot and often say how lucky we were."
Rotorua Top 10 Holiday Park owner Jared Adams said he was glad traffic would be prevented from merging on to State Highway 30a from Pukuatua St.
"While there are not heaps of car crashes the amount of close calls is shocking as I have lived here since 1991. I've seen police chases, trucks fall on the sides and a few car crashes."
On the flip side, he said it would put a bit of pressure on the other roads as a lot of people used Pukuatua St to head north.
Business owners spoken to along Amohau St said they weren't happy about parking being removed between Amohia and Tutanekai Sts, saying it was already difficult for their customers and clients to find parks.
Extreme Beauty salon manager Jo Humphrey said she was really concerned for her clients, many of whom were elderly, who were already struggling to find parks.
She said staff were also working up until 10pm and it wasn't safe for them to park several blocks away and walk in the dark.
Once the upgrades are done, ownership of the road will be handed over to the Rotorua Lakes Council to manage as a local arterial road.
Council infrastructure general manager Stavros Michael said the project would greatly improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, help to balance traffic flow and provide better connectivity for the community.
"It is also great to see Waka Kotahi include shared pathways as part of this project, which will connect our shared path network from east to west and complement our community's increasing use of alternative modes of transport."
Construction is subject to funding and will likely begin between late 2021 and early 2022.
Street View: How will the changes impact State Highway 30a / Amohau St businesses?
They need to do the bypass before they do this. I think they go overboard with cycleways and I was a cyclist for years. The more parking we have the better it is for us.
Graham Geater, Graham Geater Hairdresser owner
Our customers can't park outside as it is. There's only one park for me right outside. Losing those parks will be a big loss for us.
Kritika Gulati, Moshim's owner
I've got two car parks beside my business so it won't bother me too much. They've got to do it I suppose.
Craig Aitu, Axon Chiropractor
I'm really concerned for my clients. Some of them are elderly and can't walk that far. I just don't know where customers are going to park, they go around and around the block as it is.
Jo Humphrey, Extreme Beauty salon manager