Tauranga City Councillors have been warned the city could face mass gridlock if they go ahead with the $6.8 million four laning of 15th Ave before the Baypark to Bayfair link is completed.
The council proposes widening 15th Ave from Grace Road to Burrows St over the next financial year.
But, at a council meeting last week, councillors were told the city could face network disruptions if they bring forward the project.
“We really haven’t discussed that with NZTA, but our view is you risk having major disruption in your network and we know we’re not very resilient,” says the council general manager growth and infrastructure services, Christine Jones.
“If there is an accident somewhere on our network there is relative gridlock. If you have two major construction locations and then there was some sort of event - we saw that when we had the dolphins.”
Callers to SunLive described taking an hour to get from Cameron Road to Fraser Street via Courtney Road, only to find Fraser Street also gridlocked. Traffic along 15th Ave to Welcome Bay was slower than walking pace.
“That‘s an example of what will happen,” says Christine. “You have got to B2B going through significant construction and people are diverting. We know diversion is happening for people to avoid construction at B2B. Then you have something to the effect of dolphins, and that is potentially what you will have.
“We are saying there is significant risk and our advice is to not take on that risk, but to have all the preparation work done. You could be ready to go as soon as the programing on B2B is at a level where it’s not going to cause disruption and that is our recommendation.”
The work is in the Long Term Plan, 2021 year, and she says the council has the option of bringing it forward.
“The recommendation passed earlier in this agenda provides that opportunity to move and push projects,” says Christine.
The 2021 four laning project includes a city bound bus lane and carpool lane.
In long term plan deliberations councillors agreed to bring the planning forward. The council will also approach NZTA about timing.