Councillors seeking new Bayfair link ideas

Mark Wassung’s over bridge idea could be an alternative to the NZTA’s rejected Bayfair link underpass. Image: Supplied.

Two Tauranga City Councillors are already thinking of alternatives for pedestrians and cyclists to get from A to B, following the New Zealand Transport Agency’s decision to not include an underpass as part of the Baypark to Bayfair Link project. 

NZTA Senior Project Delivery Manager Andrew Thackwray says with the evidence gathered from the design process, the underpass construction would not only be highly complex, but extra contractual costs would arise, exceeding the available project funding.

Andrew says in addition to the costs associated with the physical works, there would also be significant costs due to the additional time needed to build the underpass, as well as the traffic switches which would be needed to enable construction.

"We understand that this decision will be disappointing for many in the community, but a new underpass is no longer an affordable option in what is currently a highly constrained funding environment.”

Andrew explains the underpass total cost has been totaled to $33 million, and the complexity of the work required would add another two years or more to the construction timeline.

Councillor Larry Baldock says the underpass is hard to justify at its cost.

“It’s what they are going to provide as an alternative will be interesting, they probably should be looking at two underpasses in my opinion to improve access for pedestrians and for cyclists.

“When you are talking that kind of money, we’d get better outcomes with over bridges or relocating an underpass somewhere else as another option.

“You could go on the south side of Girven Road and provide an overpass there and then down at Concord to give two options for people to get across, particularly cyclists and mobility scooters.”

Fellow councillor Rick Curach agrees with Larry, and says the NZTA made a decision which had no alternative.

“Logically, it just didn’t stack up. When you’re talking $33 million, and the fact that the NZTA are short of funds, it was obviously not prioritized, and also there was a delay to the project of two years, so I suppose the cost factor and the delay of the project came up as an obvious result.

“Everyone saw the benefits, but the cost versus benefit ratio doesn’t add up.”

As for an alternative, Rick describes architect Mark Wassung’s overpass idea as ‘awesome’.

“The overpass can be done after, so it can be retrofitted after the project is finished, and it is obviously something we need to consider as a solution because it doesn’t mean going underground, and that was the NZTA’s issue as there is a whole lot of services, there is also the weight bearing requirements and not compromising the ground conditions and things like that.

“An overpass wouldn’t have those issues. It is a solution in the future when the project is finished.

“I use the current underpass, but with the project, the NZTA is going to have a signalised crossing, so you press a button and the pedestrians or cyclists can go across.

“There is going to be a safe solution, but it means the inconvenience of waiting a minute or so.”

Mark Wassung’s Baypark to Bayfair link over pass idea came from his own personal interest.

“I came up with the idea myself, and it’s self-driven, there is no clients or anyone behind it, it’s my idea and it’s all done in the resources of my practice,” says Mark.

“I don’t live in that area, but I am aware of its high usage historically, and of course it’s gone now, but it was an interesting amenity that was taken away, and there was no real plan to reinstate it or to have the same or similar.

“Because the new design was wider, the underpass would’ve ended up being I think close to 100 metres.”

Mark says his idea of an over bridge is accessible, therefore it is friendly to those with mobility scooters and wheelchairs with an ‘organic curve’.

Mark describes the bridge as an ‘urban playground’.

“It would be visible, accessible, and allow for scooters and pedestrians and cyclists. It basically takes the existing amenity and gives people a safe and accessible path over the top.”

After proposing his idea to the Tauranga City Council and the NZTA, he says the community were very much behind the over bridge.

Mark says he designed a similar bridge in Hamilton and he was able to use the rates and numbers from a quantity surveyor to determine a cost for his proposed Bayfair link over bridge, and it totalled to be around seven million dollars.

 “Seven million to do something that’s sculptural and organic and like an urban playground was what I thought, a reasonable number, compared to trying to get people across five intersection lights.

“The whole point of the B2B is to get people moving, but if you are going to be pushing buttons and interrupting traffic, then it is going to be interrupting the flow.”

To Mark’s frustration, his self-driven proposal, which has had a lot of community support, hasn’t been acted on by the NZTA and the Tauranga City Council as of yet.

“I circulated the drawings and no decisions were made, they had all the information but nobody did anything with it.

“It seems to be a lot of talk and no action.”

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Posted on 13-07-2019 09:21 | By Val.M

And what about those of us who have mobility walkers because we don’t have the strength in out arms or legs to manage without them on flat surfaces! Let alone a slope like this!

.... and a traffic light controlled

Posted on 12-07-2019 12:42 | By earlybird

pedestrian crossing won’t work because......??

Did you get a cross quote NZTA?

Posted on 11-07-2019 20:36 | By Neil Pollett

$33 million to build an underpass of about 100m. Thats $330,000 per metre of construction. Wow who would not want a piece of that action. The current underpass is completely ok. If NZTA destroy it they are obliged to replace it and not say sorry its not in the budget. That does not wash. The fabulous new bridge over Route K (another NZTA tolled road) cost less than $3 million and is much longer. So 11 times that spend for an underpass someone needs to go crunch their numbers or buy a new calculator.


Posted on 11-07-2019 07:21 | By sam77

Been following the B2B project since it was announced and no the underpass was not in the original contract design it was added later on after consultation. It’s going to cost too much so they gave it the chop. Can’t seem to win with some people, govt wants to build something and it costs a lot and people complain, so then when they cut things because it’s too expensive people complain again. They built the Tauriko toll expressway first and then added two pedestrian bridge overpasses. Engineering takes time people, they’ll sort something out. Patience is a virtue.

One small point !!

Posted on 10-07-2019 23:21 | By The Caveman

Are these Councillors now grandstanding – upcoming council elections – and are they hinting that the Tauranga ratepayers should stump up for what is in fact REQUIRED PUBLIC SAFETY works for State Highway 2. That falls to NZTA !!

What a Surprise - NOT.

Posted on 10-07-2019 18:30 | By Yadick

Gosh, so pleased they realised this before it was too late. A few minor nose to tails warrant a speed camera on Chapel Street yet a major vehicular area and high accident area like this gets safety shoved aside. Thank you for thinking of the people’s lives, the families, our loved ones. Your concern for our safety is overwhelming.

Plans and Quotes

Posted on 10-07-2019 13:48 | By Calm Gully

The underpass was part of the original project??? wasn’t it? so whoever won the task of completing it, is obliged to finish it to plan and quote given. Why is planning so loose, half the road works 1/2 done around Tauranga, should not be paid for. :( Bad surfacing and potholes appear the next day - that is not good workmanship. No-one is accountable, it’s all talk and no action. Do the whole job you were instructed to do. NZTA needs to check the quotes and has approved the job, see it through!

Leave it alone

Posted on 10-07-2019 13:25 | By Northboro

Councillors should leave it alone... The option from NZTA isn’t unreasonable when you consider the cost factor. The project is well underway and changes should have been made in the design phase.

Shuttle Bus

Posted on 10-07-2019 12:29 | By Maryfaith

A shuttle bus would be very cost effective!!

Build this!

Posted on 10-07-2019 12:18 | By Kat49

No way the council just found out the underpass cost now, they must have known from the start - no one would go ahead this far without having an idea for the cost of the whole project, it would be a startling waste of money to add the underpass in later. Love the overpass idea, much better than stopping the traffic flow. As a nervous cyclist, I won’t be going through the intersection without an overpass or underpass.

Not while Labour is in Power

Posted on 10-07-2019 07:28 | By Cynical Me

Who is surprised by this? Not I. Labour will spend nothing in this area ever because we don’t vote communism and Marxist. Don’t blame the NZTA guys. they just get to have to deal with the results of Arden, Twyford and Genter. Still, we could steal the fancy bridge from the Lakes or from across the toll road and plonk it down at Bayfair. even the one from Ohauiiti. No one uses that one. Meanwhile, the two that need replacing are listed for the year 2100. Hairini and Maungatapu. Still, we will all have personal flying machines by then. Good luck with fixing our roads. Lets just stop people from coming here.

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