Tolls will be temporarily waived on the Tauranga Eastern Link to help ease rush hour congestion near Te Puke Highway.
Te Puke Highway, near Pah Road, will be reduced to one lane from Monday, May 16, for up to three weeks.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Regional Manager Infrastructure Delivery, Jo Wilton, says since October 2021 work has progressed on stabilising the riverbank opposite Tuhourangi Marae to minimise erosion and preserve indigenous fish in the Kaituna River.
The next step is to install 50 steel sheet piles.
“We understand this is an extremely busy time for Kiwifruit harvest and we have looked into every possibly option to delay this work, but the site can’t be left exposed over winter or there is a risk the road will slip away.
“Due to the weight of the crane being used for the sheet piling, it must be set back at least six metres from the riverbank otherwise it could cause significant damage. So, for safety reasons, we need to close a lane to allow extra space for the crane,” says Jo.
Soil anchors and sheet piles will reinforce the river’s edge. 52 anchors have already been drilled 15m below the highway.
The next step is constructing a 42-metre-long retaining wall using over 50 steel sheet piles, each 20 metres deep. These will be driven vertically into the bank, back from the river’s edge.
Te Puke Highway is already experiencing significant travel delays late afternoon and early evening and for around three weeks there will be a lane closed past the site and manual stop/go in place.
Waka Kotahi is working in partnership with Tapuika, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated to make the road safer and develop a solution for the Te Puke community.
“The stop/go team will actively monitor traffic, especially between 4pm and 7pm and outside of these hours traffic lights will be in place. With shift workers from orchards and packhouses on their commute home, as well as trucks hauling freshly picked fruit from orchards to the packhouses, we’re expecting significant delays.
“The alternative route is the Tauranga Eastern Link Toll Road and for the duration of the lane closure, we have approval to remove the toll on the Tauranga Eastern Link Toll Road westbound lanes (heading towards Tauranga) while this work is underway, between 4pm and 7pm weekdays,” says Jo.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council Deputy CEO and Group Manager Infrastructure Services, Gary Allis says it is great everyone working together has produced a solution during the kiwifruit harvest.
The waiving of tolls on the Tauranga Eastern Link Toll Road in the afternoon will make a significant difference during peak traffic time by providing people an alternative route.
“This is a good outcome and the delay to the start of the works by a few weeks has also lowered the levels of disruption during the kiwifruit harvest.”
The toll free period is to encourage anyone travelling towards Tauranga to use the Toll Road, by trying to reduce traffic and pressure on the Te Puke Highway.
NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated Chief Executive Officer, Colin Bond says “while NZKGI’s preference is to have no disruption to roads throughout the busy harvest season, we appreciate the toll free period offered by Waka Kotahi to help mitigate any delays”.
The toll free period will run from Monday, May 16, to Friday, June 3, 2022, for westbound traffic only, between 4pm and 7pm, Monday to Friday, while the stop/go is in place on the Te Puke Highway.
People travelling on the Te Puke Highway are asked to take extra care when travelling through the site by following the temporary 30km/h speed limit, traffic management and directions from staff.
Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey. Keep up to date with:
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