Tauranga Council: 10-15 years of congestion ahead

Traffic queueing in Takitimu Drive in Tauranga. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Stuff.

Tauranga City Council is admitting there is '10-15 years” of congestion ahead for road users as the Bay of Plenty comes to terms with its growing population.

Council says congestion across Tauranga, including suburbs such as Mt Maunganui, Greerton and Pāpāmoa, has increased as the authorities attempt to build capacity to cope with demand.

Speaking to the BuzzWorthy podcast, Tauranga City Council transport director Brendan Bisley says despite about $1.2 billion being invested in the region's roading infrastructure, council simply can not 'build their way out” of congestion.

'One of the reasons you are seeing so much activity on the roading network is because we are doing a 20-year programme of work to try and build capacity back in,” he says.

'Sadly for a lot of ratepayers, there is 10-15 years of congestion on the roading network and a lot of construction activity, but there is no way of getting that improvement unless we do those roadworks.

'We can't build our way out of congestion – we can't keep widening roads or purchasing houses.”

Bisley admits council looked into the possibility of purchasing houses on a block of Cameron Rd for widening purposes but the cost of about $50 million put them off.

'That is just not economically feasible,” he says.

Ongoing works on Cameron Rd – one of the city's main routes – are due to conclude at the end of 2023, while current work on Maunganui Rd in downtown Mt Maunganui will be suspended ahead of the summer season before resuming next winter.

'The last big investment in the transport network was probably 25 years ago and 25 years ago the population was half of what it is now,” says Bisley.

'At the time there was heaps of capacity. It was not really an issue and trips took 10-15 minutes.

'But as the population has built up, there is no capacity left. That is why just a small accident in Hewletts Rd [in Mt Maunganui] or something on the Kaimai Range [on State Highway 29] can see everything jam up.”

Bisley also points to a 'constrained” construction industry in relation to the city's congestion issues, and would like to see 10-15 per cent of the city's population move away from using cars over the coming years.

Tauranga City Council transport director Brendan Bisley.

'We have got a very large programme of work heading forward.

'Those works are designed to unlock the congestion but we are asking how we provide better free flow and keep the city working.

'Mode shift is quite emotive for a lot of people but we are only talking about 10-15 per cent of the population. We realise that for a lot of people, a private vehicle is their only way of getting around.”

Bisley claims traffic around Tauranga 'flows pretty well” during the school holidays.

'Most people find it relatively easy to get around.

'The difference between school holiday traffic and normal traffic is only 10 per cent, so it is a really small proportion that makes a massive difference.

'That is why we are targeting 10-15 per cent of those that have a choice [to bike, bus or use a car].

'If we can get them on to a different mode [of transport], the other 85-90 per cent have significantly less congestion and the city moves a lot better.”

-Dan Sheridan/Stuff.

You may also like....


Bunch of Plonkers

Posted on 17-11-2022 07:20 | By First Responder

Talk about state the obvious. What else do you expect, when you turn what was a perfectly fine roundabout in Greerton, into one with half the capacity. What about Cameron Rd, is that going to improve capacity? Unfortunately the Council is run by a bunch of geriatrics, that would be better off playing chess in a resthome.

Money Grabbing Incompetence

Posted on 17-11-2022 07:25 | By Wigan

As always, hindsight gives us perfect vision, but what Mr Bisley is saying here is around 25 Years worth of incompetent councils have taken the development & building consent money which allowed the city to double in size whilst keeping the same roading network and spent it on ...?

Another Year!

Posted on 17-11-2022 07:57 | By Yadick

Another year for completion of Cameron Road. That's a disgrace. I came off at the Waihi Rd/11th Ave off-ramp last night and it took .45 minutes from Chapel St to the 11th Ave/Cameron Road lights. Another year of that! The excuses that roadworks are held up in Winter so now TCC are going to suspend the Mount roadworks for Summer and recommence in Winter, hmmm - obviously going to be a shoddy job according to their theory of excuses. Clarke Street outside the hospital carpark has been shockingly pot-holed for months. Another year . . . But let's build a couple of museums, meeting rooms, etc $$$ and ripping up the CBD - how many years will that add onto our congestion? Those poor retailers. Undoubtedly we need improvements but this all just seems ar@@ about face and poor retailers going belly up with an apathetic attitude from the Commissioners.

Easy solution

Posted on 17-11-2022 08:10 | By philiphallen

STOP BUILDING more bloody houses.


Posted on 17-11-2022 08:23 | By Mr Dobalina

Just leave. Tauranga is far from the place it was 30 years ago. There are plenty of nice places to live where you don't have these big city problems.

This place sucks

Posted on 17-11-2022 10:08 | By Howbradseesit

Grew up in Tauranga and loved this town. Now I despise this place and what the councils have allowed it to become - its worse than Auckland traffic wise. Would not recommend Tauranga to anyone as a desirable place to live.


Posted on 17-11-2022 10:15 | By Kancho

Yes growth has caused difficulty. However elected councils may come and go but staff department bureaucracy remains. If the " theory " of Cameron road is to be an extension of Greerton then yes expect gridlock . I feel sorry for everyone trying to move in work vehicles and for the rest of us it's try and pick a time , but that unfortunately that's more difficult. As stated using buses just doesn't work nor ever can for quite a lot of people. I know in Greerton locals submitted to council all that was required was a pedestrian crossing upgrade. But it became a huge over time over budget that largely made traffic flow worse. I never hear anyone say it's better than it was before all the time and money was spent. Will Cameron road be the same ?


Posted on 17-11-2022 11:38 | By morepork

I feel for your 11th ave/Waihi Rd experience, as I had exactly the same when coming up from Takitimu Drive. 30 minutes to Cameron Road and then going nowhere in a Southerly direction. (Another 35 minutes to Greerton...). It's all very well to say:"We are building and widening needed roads..." but when the attempts to ease flow cause more congestion (as in Geerton), it is simply a waste of money.

Oceanbeach and Maunganui roads

Posted on 17-11-2022 11:49 | By jed

Thanks to council efforts, Oceanbeach road and Maunganui Road congestion has significantly worsened. This is purely because of the insane closure of Links Ave, and , the median strips that prevent right hand turns or u-turns.

No idea

Posted on 17-11-2022 11:52 | By timor2011

With the construction of the Otumoetai peninsula cycle way you ain’t seen nothing yet - with buses stopping in the middle of the road it’s going to be chaos and congested beyond belief - ngatai road stops near the bureta intersection in the mornings..


Posted on 17-11-2022 11:53 | By morepork

I was interested to see Mr. Bisley's percentages of critical population. I empathize with his point regarding population expansion, without concomitant investment in roads and infrastructure. But the situation has now reached a tipping point where a single small incident can delay thousands of people for hours. I can't believe that the flow modelling is SO bad it doesn't show how the key points are affected when the flow collapses. We need a complete review of the Tauranga roading system with definition of where easement of flow SHOULD be applied, rather than just deciding "Let's do Cameron Road...". Instead, pipe-dream criteria like handling it with Buffalo Buses and forcing everyone to ride bikes, took over the Cuckoo land that is Council decision making. Accept the reality; cars are here to stay. Mr. Bisley is right to target percentages; at least it's reflecting reality.

Welcome to Tauranga!...

Posted on 17-11-2022 11:59 | By morepork

...Now go home! The fact that our transport system is at saturation point is a direct reflection on the place being "full up"... I smiled at philiphallen's heartfelt plea, but he has a point. It might be a good idea to constrict new building to further out of town until the transport problems are resolved.

Sick of living here?

Posted on 17-11-2022 12:09 | By morepork

I understand how frustrated some posters are. I've lived here since 1958. It was a fantastic place to grow up in and I am glad that, after 30+ years living overseas, I am now home to stay. 60+ years will inevitably see change, and change is not ALWAYS for the better. But, for me at least, this is "home". I'll live here as long as I can afford the Rates or until my time is up. I believe we have enough capable people to solve the problems and as long as we manage to retain our Democracy, so people are listened to, and dissent is not repressed, we''ll be fine. The landscape never changes and it is world class... I love this place... even when I'm stuck in traffic.


Posted on 17-11-2022 12:19 | By The Professor

Exactly!! It's not rocket science. We don't have the room in Tauranga so put up the 'closed' sign and let people populate other parts of the country. Tauranga and the immediate surrounding areas such as Omokoroa, Papamoa, Tauriko have become awful over recent years - mainly due to traffic congestion.


Posted on 17-11-2022 12:31 | By MoR

Cameron Road is a bloody joke, it looks no better than what it was originally, The other day it took me 20 mins to get through this BS. This so called Anne Tolley and Mahuta need to leave Tauranga and give us back our right to vote for Councilors which they took our right to vote. Not right plus they are wasting more money than ever, and the City looks no better with what I counted 16 empty shops on Devonport Road, no one is coming into the CBD anymore they rather go the the Lakes Bayfair etc where parking is free too :)

More grid lock to be expected!

Posted on 17-11-2022 12:41 | By uli

Whatever the council approached caused more gridlock. Greerton roundabout has been mentioned, blocking off Hairini St that every 20 mins a bus can go through - the rest has to go around and cause more grid lock, etc. Lately I heard Bisley claim that he needed to cut 15 Ave from 4 to 3 lanes at the crossing to Cameron road. Does he not know that in one phase of green traffic light 33% more cars get though on 4 lanes compared to 3? Instead of changing to 2 straight lanes, one for right turns and one for left they cut off one lane and are surprised about a grid lock? These are the people (with worse as councillors/commissioners at the top) who lack common sense and ruin the Tauranga.


Posted on 17-11-2022 13:34 | By Let's get real

Does anyone believe that the important jobs that need to be addressed are on the 10 - 15 year list.? There has been talk but no action on the Turret Rd bridge for well over 20 years... outcomes achieved, zero. Traffic build-up into Tauranga will be backing up to Waihi before any work is done to ALLOW cars to move freely along highway 2. But for those campaigners to reduce the fatalities on this road, they haven't even had to reduce the speed limit to achieve your demands. Stationery traffic results in reduced deaths and that's all that is expected.

Who is surprised????

Posted on 17-11-2022 14:04 | By peanuts9

I wonder why so many are surprised and bewildered by this news. For decades, we have elected councils who spent nothing to maintain the infrastructure so now it all needs to be done. Roads, water mains, waste water, sewerage, footpaths etc. all to be replaced or repaired. This takes time, money and causes disruption. Voters in Tauranga must bear a large proportion of the blame for this as the majority never voted and those that did fell for the low rates promised of the incompetent. Live and learn.

Simple solution

Posted on 17-11-2022 15:14 | By Johnney

Remove all the traffic cones where no work is being done and stop reducing our roads to one lane where there is room for two.

Construction Chaos

Posted on 17-11-2022 15:54 | By oceans

There is so much road construction in Tauranga that it is difficult to get around. I am constantly looking for shortcuts but most have dryed up. I see many construction workers standing or sitting around on their phones or drinking coffee. while perhaps one is working. I think many councillors who are elected are too scared to take the bull by the horns and do what needs to be done. They would rather take it easy and accept their large salaries than do something about the roading. I have seen HUGE roading construction take JUST a matter of months in China NOT YEARS like here.

Council are making the road Dangerous

Posted on 18-11-2022 20:35 | By Robbie & Jo

So much for road improvements. The roads are so congested nothing will fix our roads until they are brought up to meet the volume and demand. The workmanship is so embarresingly poor and the idle STMS staff are a joke. Outright consumer waste of money! I struggle to see how one project can take such a disgusting length of time and be ok? These processes need overhauling and restructuring. Having little to no practical or common sense in charge is a recipie for disaster. I live in Katikati and it takes me so long to get home I start to fall asleep it is so painfully slow! Sadly I am waiting to have an accident and it will be the councils fault for thier poor choice of inept contractor to complete a job. The frustration is so unhealthy and it shouldn't be like this. So embarrassing

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment.