SH29 upgrades – endorsement set to make dream a reality for Tauriko West

WBOPIF-SH29

Last Friday, the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Board endorsed the preferred option for the Tauriko Network Connections Detailed Business Case.

The endorsement clears the way for funding to be made available to make highly desired upgrades to three state highways in the Tauriko area of the Western Bay of Plenty — State Highway 29, State Highway 29A and State Highway 36. The case had already been endorsed by the Western Bay of Plenty’s three local councils and sub-regional planning body SmartGrowth.

At this stage, funding for three of the four phases of this project will be considered in the 2024-2027 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), with outcomes of this process expected in mid-2024.

Western Bay of Plenty Infrastructure Forum (WBOPIF) chair and chief executive of Priority One, Nigel Tutt, congratulates the Board on this milestone achievement, but urges the urgent fast-tracking of stage four.

“We’re very happy to hear that the Board is willing to take a step forward with this project; it shows that they’re willing to deliver on the outcomes that are most important to the community.

“The project unlocks a large amount of land for housing and industrial purposes, provides choice in how people want to travel, protects strategic freight routes to and from the Port of Tauranga, provides safety for all users, and improves resilience and environmental outcomes,” said Tutt.  

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has developed a staged approach that will help deliver the programme in a manner that is not only efficient but will minimise disruption, reduce re-work and cost, maximise integration and ensure that the delivery of improvements is proportionate to the need at the time. The stages are as follows:

  1. Route protection via designation of the future SH29 and SH29A alignment. This important step ensures works can proceed when funding is made available, and to protect the route from being built in the upcoming development of the area. 
  2. Replacement of the Omanawa Stream bridge, realignment of the connections on SH29 around the bridge and an upgrade to the Omanawa Road intersection.
  3. Prioritising public transport with bus priority lanes on SH36 and SH29A to connect the new public transport hub at Tauranga Crossing to the Cameron Road multimodal corridor. This includes widening the existing SH29A to six lanes (two bus-only, four general traffic) from Takitimu Drive Toll Road to Barkes Corner, and a new grade-separated interchange at Barkes Corner.

Stage four will involve building a new SH29 alignment adjacent to the existing SH29 from Redwood Lane that delivers a dedicated inter-regional journey and supports future growth aspirations in the Western Corridor and the wider Western Bay of Plenty sub-region. 

With stages one, two and three now on the way to being a reality, Tutt stresses the importance of not forgetting about stage four. 

“SH29 is the key route connecting our region with Auckland, Waikato, and the Upper North Island. This route supports the economic success of the Western Bay of Plenty due to its integral role in the Golden Triangle between Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland. 

Home to more than 218,000 people, the Western Bay of Plenty is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.

“It is vital that growth and liveability, and safety and productivity go hand in hand. Growth modelling for our region has consistently been on the low side, we need to build infrastructure in a timely manner for growth,” says Tutt. 

The recommended option will integrate with the Tauriko Enabling Works programme which is being developed with the goal to move into the construction phase in the next six to nine months (subject to consultation with landowners whose property or access may be affected by the works, consenting requirements and land acquisition). 

Further information will be provided by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency in an update on the Enabling Works later this year. Find out more at https://nzta.govt.nz/projects/tauriko-network-plan/