Better solutions sought for Hairini Link

Hairini Street which is closed to the public and is now a bus lane.

The Hairini Link and Mangatapu Underpass - the $45 million dollar, much-heralded and much-awaited answer to Welcome Bay transport issues - is drawing fire from residents, users and politicians alike.

When it was opened in June, the transport project aimed to improve journeys around the Maungatapu and Hairini roundabouts, separate state highway traffic and local traffic, and make travel safer for pedestrians and cyclists by providing shared paths.

However, since the opening on June 22, it’s been roundly criticised.

According to Tauranga City Councillor John Robson, the new infrastructure hasn’t worked the way it was thought it would work.

“And since then, they’ve been going through a process of trying different things.”

He doesn’t think NZTA will be happy, he knows a number of councillors who are less than impressed.

He says the people of Hairini and Welcome Bay aren’t happy.

People like long-time local, Bruce Cronin. He has slated the road signage, he says motorists are confused, they’re being directed into a dead end street and they’re resorting to a designated bus lane.

“There’s a sign warning of a $150 fine for using the bus lane, but more and more vehicles using it,” says Bruce. But that doesn’t seem to matter. Bruce saw four cars use the bus lane in 10 minutes.

The problem, as he sees it, is the closure of Hairini Street to cars and what he considers to be the poor amount of correct signage.

“Confused motorist are following the signage and ending up in a dead end.”

They either turn around or continue down the Hairini Street bus lane to merge with SH2A.

It’s been 10 years since the four stage project started. The first stage, completed in December 2008, were traffic lights at the Maungatapu and Hairini roundabouts. The second stage was the 15th Ave/Fraser Street intersection upgrade. Stage three was to be four-laning 15th Ave/Turret Road which has been deferred until 2021.

Stage four was the Maungatapu underpass. The underpass was identified as the best solution to relieve traffic congestion, improve safety and separate local and state highway traffic according to the NZTA’s website. “It would contribute to economic development and safety by addressing congestion, improving journey time, reliability on a key route and creating a safer operating environment.”
But, according to John Robson, the plan may not have worked out as intended.

 “They model what they think is going to happen, where the traffic is coming from, where it’s going and what the design will be for the project,” says John. “In total my view, bad data used for those models meant that when they put this thing together, it hasn’t worked the way they thought it would work.”

The councillor says the communities have been left with something they don’t have a lot of confidence in, the people of Hairini have lost a key benefit of living in the suburbs which was direct access into the city. And the council suffered a damaged reputation.”

Councillors Bill Grainger, John Robson and Rick Curach discussing what they can do.

Recently the TCC met with the NZTA and asked that Hairini residents be given easier access to the city bound lanes of SH2A  - including reopening Hairini Street and investigating  safety improvements to the cycle lane on the new link road.

“A reason we have heard they stopped traffic on the old slip road, now a bus lane, is because they feared cars merging with cars is dangerous,” says John. “But what they’ve got now is cyclist merging with buses.”

And, he says, they need to address four laning the current two lane Turret Road Bridge.

John Robson says Welcome Bay was built in an area with no effective way for people get into town.

“They built a suburb but they didn’t build a proper roading system, and this has been an issue for that community for years.”

“Some of the people in Welcome Bay aren’t happy because when they started the whole project off it looked like it would be solved. But then a whole lot of different things have happened.”

SunLive have contacted NZTA for comments and will update the story once we have heard from them. 




Tauranga City Council Shown to be Inept Again

Posted on 13-08-2018 22:37 | By Reality_Check

The vehicles from Hairini have happily merged with the other traffic for years. What planet are councillors and road planners on to think this is now an issue. One addage I like is: It is always possible to make things worse. TCC need to stop trying to over analyze an issue and put into place fixes that are worse then the original issue. Sigh.

hurry up and do something

Posted on 10-08-2018 17:52 | By Angel74

travelling from ohauiti road (and not rural ohauiti) takes over twenty minutes in the morning just to get to fourteenth ave................ slower than it use to take when Hairini street was open to all traffic!!!!!!!!!!! glad i dont have to drive there every day.

welcome bay underpass

Posted on 10-08-2018 17:47 | By Laraine

leave Hairini rd closed . Have Ohaiti rd traffic going right so they have to go under the underpass to town any Welcome Bay traffic wanting to go west send down Ohaiti rd. this way they close off any traffic from Welcome Bay and Ohaiti rd using the Hairini round about easing the traffic on the state rd.


Posted on 10-08-2018 17:25 | By Taffy

They waited until it opened then start tinkering with stupid trials instead of having it sorted out re Hairini. Stupid bus lane introduced still some many cars go down it.Secondly if the left lane into town is blocked the impatient ones jump across to the other lane . Plus we even have buses going around the Maungatapu roundabout thereby avoiding the bus lane, why? because its too hard to turn right at the Hairini roundabout .Think the best one is the cycle lanes to nowhere on each side of the road,all nicely concreted and fenced off then just stops.It is only a matter of time before we have some serious accidents.

Never Happy

Posted on 10-08-2018 15:47 | By Mommatum

There’s simply no pleasing some people. The problem is too many cars, and I don’t quesion people’s right to use them. However having chosen to do so don’t complain if well intentioned roading projects don’t prove to be the magic bullet. As for motorists who persist in using bus lanes it’s no wonder buses don’t run on time. Add to that congestion and those who cause it. THe same ones who complain about emptu buses. Perhaps more people should switch, they might be pleasantly surprised.

The road

Posted on 10-08-2018 12:03 | By surfsup

“A reason we have heard they stopped traffic on the old slip road, now a bus lane, is because they feared cars merging with cars is dangerous,” says John. I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense given that cars and buses used to merge with cars before the road changes started with no major problems.

Common sense

Posted on 10-08-2018 11:25 | By First Responder

Open Hairini Street up again. Typical engineers trying to fix something that isn’t broken. Most of the traffic using it are coming from Ohauiti. Alter the lights on the corner of Ohauiti Rd/Welcome Bay Rd, so traffic can turn right from Ohauiti Rd, and go down to the new road. Will also stop traffic from Ohauiti having to do 180 degrees around the roundabout to get to Welcome Bay.


Posted on 10-08-2018 11:12 | By CC8

The real solution is another expressway out in the harbour ( like the Waikareao Expressway on the other side of town), to go from Hairini , past all the congestion and Memorial Park to the city and link up with SH2 around Dive Crescent. With off ramps at say 5th or 6th Ave and First Ave? That will effectively ring road the city. Get rid of the rail bridge at the same time. While we are at it , couple more on/off ramps for the Takitimu Drive toll road at Chadwick Road, Greerton and Gate Pa wouldn’t go amiss either.


Posted on 10-08-2018 11:10 | By Lvdw

I wish the Councillors/staff/planners would walk/cycle/drive through this area at peak times so that they can feel our pain, I mean ’see’ for themselves where the problems are. They are welcome to stay at our house for a few days :) We are fast losing all faith (and hope) in our esteemed planners.

whoa back there John

Posted on 10-08-2018 10:57 | By CC8

When you say "They built a suburb but didn’t build the roading" , you are talking about Tauranga City Council, so from your perspective that is a "we" didn’t build the roading. One of the big developers out there in the 1970s was a customer of mine , in the *0s I remember him telling me that te council had charged him for the infrstructue ( i.,e. a two lane tunnel ) and better access roading into the city via Turret Rd and 15th Ave. He was hot under the collar then that he had paid the fees (in 1970s dollars), but the roading was deferred. So what makes the TCC and NZTA think that a 1970s plan for roading will be adequate in 2018 and onwards.... Even a two lane bridge will only move the problem a kilometer down the road .


Posted on 10-08-2018 08:54 | By Chris

I can’t believe what an enormous screw-up this has been all these little issues should have been decided and resolved at the planning stage, including the accident-waiting-to-happen at the left turn slip lane on Welcome Bay Road heading into the underpass.


Posted on 10-08-2018 07:52 | By collydogz

If they had stuck to the plan and done the stages in order and done stage 3 instead of stage 4 most of the problems would be solved. They may not have even had to go to stage 4. The problem is the volume of traffic going into turret Rd. That is what causes the backlog. In the evening cars coming onto 15th ave and turret from side streets and the cars travelling down 15th letting them in. The signage is appalling. There should be a huge sign at the top of Hairini Rd stating it as a bus lane residents cars only. Our council is so incompetent it beggars belief.

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