Tauranga City Council has approved a business case for the Accessible Streets for Ōtūmoetai project, which will go to NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi for funding consideration early next year.
If funding is approved, a detailed design will be prepared prior to implementation.
The project aims to provide safer ways for people to bike, scooter, walk and catch the bus, with 12km of transport network upgrades proposed across Matua, Bureta, Cherrywood, Ōtūmoetai, Brookfield, Bellevue and Judea. Better connections between these areas and the city centre are also planned.
A report received at Monday’s Council meeting highlighted the significant role community feedback played in establishing the preferred option for inclusion in the business case.
Notably, the council decided to opt for a transitional approach in some areas, which will allow the community to test changes before any permanent infrastructure is put in place. Also in response to community feedback, some aspects of the project proposal won’t proceed, such as speed humps to slow traffic in some areas and traffic lights.
Tauranga City Council Commission Chair Anne Tolley says the transitional approach in some areas is a good step to take as it will provide practical experience of design components before final decisions are made.
“We recognise that when a project is only on paper, people may have some concerns about how it will work. By installing some interim installations, including at the Chapel Street Bridge, it will give the community an opportunity to experience the proposed changes in real time before any investment in a permanent upgrade.”
The project builds on feedback received through the Ōtūmoetai Spatial Plan, a 30-year plan for the area, where people supported improved safety and connected neighbourhoods with walking, cycling and better public transport.
Given its proximity to the city, the area is considered an ideal location to offer alternative travel modes. With more than 3000 students attending schools in the area, providing safer travel options for people to ride, walk or catch the bus is also a priority, as well as providing good links into the city via Chapel Street and Waihi Road.
Other benefits of the project include improved bus journey times, bus stop upgrades including bus shelters, safety improvements for all road users at key locations, pedestrian crossing enhancements, and better and safer access to the Bureta and Cherrywood shops.
Accessible Streets for Ōtūmoetai is one of a number of transport projects planned across the city, which are intended to significantly improve Tauranga’s transport network and support our growing city.
By 2050, the Western Bay of Plenty will be home to around 258,000 residents, which will create one million extra trips on our transport network every year. There is already significant congestion in places, and as there is no space to build new roads, it is vital that more people are able to get around safely and in ways that don’t add to the city’s carbon emissions, creating a more sustainable future for Tauranga.
Where substantial changes are made to the detailed design of project components, directly affected residents and key partners will be consulted.
For more information on the design visit www.tauranga.govt.nz/accessiblestreets-otumoetai