Eastside businesses are eager for work on the Tarawera roundabout to begin but the New Zealand Transport Agency says it still can't confirm a timeframe for the work.

However, the Rotorua Daily Post can reveal the notorious roundabout on Te Ngae Rd can expect to finally get traffic lights.

New Zealand Transport Agency regional transport systems manager Rob Campbell said the Tarawera Rd/Te Ngae Rd intersection would be changed to be controlled by traffic lights.

He said the tenders for Stage 1 of the Rotorua Eastern Corridor closed in late January and were under evaluation.


Although Campbell said they could not confirm when the work would start, the public could expect the completion of a section of four-laning, and improvements to shared pathways and the pedestrian underpass.

At the roundabout alone, there have been 32 crashes in the past five years.

The 6km stretch of road from the roundabout to the airport had a total of 129 crashes in that same time, one of those fatal.

Birchall & Maunder director Ross Birchall believed the changes could not come sooner.

"If there's going to be a positive out of a negative, I can only say 'let's get on with it'. The sooner they get onto it, the sooner the frustrated drivers in Rotorua will be a whole heap happier.

"Out to the airport. It's nuts, it's just nuts.

Birchall and Maunder director Ross Birchall says the Te Ngae Rd roundabout is
Birchall and Maunder director Ross Birchall says the Te Ngae Rd roundabout is "just nuts" and at least everyone would get a turn with traffic lights.Photo / Stephen Parker

"At least with traffic lights, everyone gets a turn," he said.

"What happens at the moment, you just take a risk. There's a gap and you go for it."


Jonay Griffin works across the road at Te Ngae Physiotherapy and Pilates and agreed drivers put their lives into their own hands going through the roundabout.

Late arrivals for appointments were common because of the traffic, to the point they had to warn customers, she said.

"We have to be quite forgiving of people who ring up and say, 'we're stuck.'"

The Te Ngae/Tarawera roundabout will be changed to traffic lights.
The Te Ngae/Tarawera roundabout will be changed to traffic lights.

Griffin said she would happily take months of roadworks if it fixed the problem and made the road safer.

Couplands Bakeries manager Bianca Voss said she suspected roadworks would affect all businesses in the area, but could pay off in the long-run.

"You're not going to come here for bread if it's going to take you 20 minutes longer than it would if you went to the supermarket."

She said while it might slow business for a bit, traffic lights would make the intersection safer and could help people turn into the complex.

"Sometimes you've got to take a bit of the pain to get the good stuff."

Deputy Mayor Dave Donaldson said it was important to factor in people's busy lives when scheduling roadworks.

"Regular users are going to be facing disruptions in their travel plans. You can't upgrade a road without interruptions."

In 2016, the Government announced it would put $24 million toward Rotorua's transport network. Major upgrades to Te Ngae Rd were discussed then.