Te Maunga interchange due to open

Waka Kotahi's Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional manager of infrastructure delivery Jo Wilton at the Te Maunga interchange which is due to have a partial opening at the end of June, weather dependent. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

There’s light at the end of the rainbow for Tauranga motorists with the partial opening of the Te Maunga interchange due to take place later this month.

Waka Kotahi's Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional manager of infrastructure delivery Jo Wilton likens the Baylink project to a jigsaw puzzle, with the Te Maunga traffic switch enabling the Bayfair flyover to be completed next.

“It’s really exciting when you get to the point of putting beams on bridges and starting to look at traffic switches and getting cars on to the new alignment, because it means you can actually see all the work you’ve done.

“You don’t get to see a lot of the work beneath the ground that we do to get the structures on there. But when you start seeing beams landing it begins to get real for people. That’s always an exciting milestone for people involved in the project.”

Traffic will soon be moving from Welcome Bay up and onto the Te Maunga interchange. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

The switch for motorists to start taking the off ramp from SH29A up onto the Te Maunga interchange doesn’t have a confirmed date yet for opening but Jo’s team is aiming for the end of June.

“It’s very much weather dependent,” says Jo.

“It’s probably the most significant step for getting the project towards completion, even though completion is next year, but it actually gets people onto part of the new alignment and gets them over that rail crossing which has such huge safety benefits. The rail is unimpeded and it’s so much safer.

Waka Kotahi's Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional manager of infrastructure delivery Jo Wilton at the Te Maunga interchange which is due to have a partial opening at the end of June, weather dependent. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

“And being able to get motorists through here enables the next stage of construction. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.”

SunLive was invited to take a look and walk around the new Te Maunga interchange which has been prepared for its partial opening under temporary traffic management. Asphalt, footpaths, streetlights, traffic signals, temporary line marking, guard rails and signs have all been installed.

It was a wet day with a rainbow in the sky and fresh wet concrete on the ground as traffic signals and footpaths went in.

Completing a project amongst live traffic has to be well-planned and done in stages, moving traffic across to free up areas for the next stage to be built.

The partial opening of the interchange will enable the next stage of construction at the Te Maunga end of the project, including the construction of the Truman Lane walkway, walking and cycling connections, the ramp approaching the interchange from Papamoa, and SH2 road under the interchange.  

Once fully operational, the interchange will carry all State Highway 29A traffic to and from SH2, removing the need for motorists to cross the railway line and allowing traffic to flow more freely onto the Tauranga Eastern Link.  

The current Te Maunga intersection. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

With the partial opening, it means traffic coming from Welcome Bay will come off SH29A on a left-turning lane, then turn right towards Papamoa.

For those travelling from Mount Maunganui to Papamoa, it’s up and over the ramp, straight through to the Tauranga Eastern Link.

And those going from Papamoa to the Mount, there will be a lane down below. Traffic from Papamoa turning left towards Maungatapu will be temporarily diverted down Truman Lane while the next stage is built.

At the Bayfair end, a further six bridge beams have been landed on the third span of the four-span Bayfair flyover, following the installation of the first two spans in April 2022.

The bridge deck for these first two spans is scheduled to be poured this month. Beams for the final span are expected to be installed later this winter and the flyover is expected to open to motorists in autumn 2023.

The concrete beams, manufactured in Te Puke, are 28m long each and weigh up to 54 tonnes.

After the underpass became available to pedestrians and cyclists in a temporary configuration in April 2022, the former temporary signalised crossing outside Bayfair Shopping Centre was decommissioned and the work zone in the middle of SH2 enlarged.

This has enabled construction to begin on the northern ramp of the Bayfair flyover, with the three retaining walls already about 30 per cent complete.

Similar to the Hewletts Road flyover, there will be a lane in each direction, separating heavy vehicles heading to the Port of Tauranga from local traffic.

There will also be two ground level lanes on either side of the flyover for local traffic.

Waka Kotahi's Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional manager of infrastructure delivery Jo Wilton at the Te Maunga interchange which is due to have a partial opening at the end of June, weather dependent. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

 

Jo says it’s all about safety improvements for the Bayfair flyover and Te Maunga interchange, with the state highway freight traffic from Tauranga Eastern Link to the Port of Tauranga being separated from local traffic, and a separation from the rail corridor.

 

About 36,000 vehicles travel through the project site on SH2 each day - more than the Southern Motorway  - so this is a significant change in layout for road users.

 

Bay Link, which will complete the SH2 Eastern Corridor for the Bay of Plenty is one piece of a much bigger picture when it comes to transportation and movement of people and goods throughout the region.

Te Maunga interchange. Photo: Supplied.

 

Another way that Waka Kotahi describe it on their website is that Baypark to Bayfair, or B2B, is a "significant cog in the wheel" of Tauranga’s transport needs - as a key freight corridor and part of the ‘gold triangle’ connecting freight to the Port.

The next step – in terms of integrating B2B with the broader transport corridor - is to examine the future of the Hewletts Road area, including Totara Street and the surrounding areas.

“This business case is just starting, as a joint piece of work between Tauranga City Council and Waka Kotahi,” says Jo.

“Baypark to Bayfair also supports the broader work that the SmartGrowth partners are doing across Tauranga to ensure our transport network can support the city’s significant growth and future aspirations of our community, including the Tauranga City Council led improvements on Cameron Road (Stages 1 and 2) and the business case for the 15th Avenue / Turrett Road area.

Te Maunga interchange. Photo: Supplied.

To summarise, the partial opening of Te Maunga interchange later this month will open up several work areas that motorists currently drive through. Once this switch has taken place, the following activities will get underway:

  • Road reconstruction will begin on SH2 underneath the interchange (next to the SH2 lanes carrying traffic from TEL towards Bayfair). All existing roads within the extent of the Bay Link site are being replaced, including this section of SH2. More than 79,000m2 of road is being constructed as part of the project.
  • The TEL ramp will progress once the existing traffic signals at Te Maunga intersection have been decommissioned. This ramp needs to be built up to the height of the interchange before being readied for use – a process which is expected to take approximately five months.
  • Construction will begin on the Truman Lane walkway which will feature stairs and a ramp descending from the interchange towards Truman Lane on the site of the current Baypark/Truman Lane roundabout. This work is one of the final pieces of the puzzle that will improve walking and cycling connectivity between Bayfair and Baypark; and is expected to open to the public in autumn 2023.

Jo says the Baylink project is running to schedule and due to be completed in late 2023.




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2 Comments

NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE

Posted on 07-07-2022 21:19 | By R1Squid

AS USUAL. Will not reduce the congestion where there is no flow. Traffic lights at the top of a man made hill. Who the hell designed this disaster.

Hopefully

Posted on 16-06-2022 15:37 | By Potofstu

This project does not have a ribbon cutting ceremony.open it and move on. Cost blowout and delays are nothing too celebrate

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