Today is the last day for Welcome Bay residents to object plans to place a short bus lane on Welcome Bay Road between James Cook and Meadowviews Drives.
Residents of the affected strip of road were informed of the proposal on March 21 and have until today to respond.
The council want to remove the central median between 166 Welcome Bay Road and Meadowviews Drive, and paint a bus lane on the landward side of the street.
As well and the loss of the central median which provides a turning bay for turning traffic, the council proposes removing the flush median on the harbour side, which provides a safety buffer for left turning traffic.
All parking on the harbour side of the street will be removed. The area features long shared driveways with many properties set back from the road.
The city council is proposing to remove all car parking on the harbour side of the street, remove the flush median, while retaining the cycle lane on the inland side.
Residents have been given less than two weeks to respond to the council letter informing them the changes are expected to be taking place later in April or early May.
Local resident Kym Johnson says the removal of the central median will increase the chances of more rear end accidents.
“For us and many others on this section of road the median is the only way we can turn into our own driveways, and it is precarious enough as it is.
“Whenever I come from the direction that requires me to use it I am constantly looking in my rear vision mirror with bated breath watching the cars approaching from behind.
“Without it residents will literally be a sitting duck on the road for someone to rear end – this has happened before even with the median. It is going to be totally dangerous and put residents’ safety at risk.
“Add to that anyone wanting to pop into the dairy from either direction and we have a certainty of regular vehicle accidents.”
A neighbour says the bus lane will not solve any problems. The bus lane is about 500m from near the bend outside the dairy to Meadowviews Drive, and then the lanes merge.
“And then after that the bus is still coming on the main road. So what difference is it going to make in the time?”
The woman who does not want her name used, says the neighbourhood should get together and ask the council people to come to the site and see what they are talking about, rather than sitting in their offices and planning
“When you see something it’s a different outcome.
“If they are going to take that median strip off, people from the houses on both sides are going to be in more danger turning in and out from that road.”
Tauranga City Council transport manager Martin Parkes says the promotion of bus lanes along Welcome Bay Road came about following receipt of numerous complaints from local residents about the levels of congestion currently being experienced in the area, particularly during the morning peak period.
“The congestion has affected the performance of bus services, with a number of schoolchildren regularly being over an hour late for school,” says Martin. “The community has asked Council to help alleviate the problems. In response, we’ve developed up a bus lane proposal, which will give buses a time advantage by removing them from general traffic queues.“
Council staff are aware of the safety concerns, says Martin.
“However the design is yet to be completed and still has to go through a rigorous safety audit process before any final decision is made.”
In December the Bay of Plenty Regional Council will increase the frequency of bus services from Welcome Bay.
“Therefore it is vitally important that measures be provided to ensure these new services operate as efficiently as possible if we are to see an uptake in the use of public transport, which will help reduce the level of congestion being experienced in the area,” says Martin.