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$1.4 billion forecast total investment

In September 2021 a record $24.3 billion investment in Aotearoa’s land transport system was announced as part of Ngā Kaupapa Huarahi o Aotearoa | 2021–24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP).

Activities funded through the NLTP aim to make New Zealand’s roads safer and more resilient, provide you with healthier, more environmentally friendly ways to move to the places that matter to you and keep freight flowing.

Investment in the Bay of Plenty region’s land transport system will support economic growth. The region has a significant role in producing and transporting goods, and needs to respond to high levels of population growth, while providing safe, reliable access and better travel options to connect local communities.

The role of transport varies across the Bay of Plenty with three distinct sub-regions that have different needs. They all require strong partnerships with local government, tangata whenua and key stakeholders to plan and deliver integrated outcomes.

Apart from tourism, the local economy is largely reliant on export industries, such as agriculture, horticulture and forestry. The Port of Tauranga is critical for New Zealand’s economic growth. It is a significant contributor to New Zealand’s economy, handling 25% of the country’s imports and exports.

Maintaining safe and reliable freight connections, including State Highway 1/29 and the North Island Main Trunk/East Coast Main Trunk rail within the region and to neighbouring regions, in particular Waikato and Auckland, is critical to supporting both the regional and national economy.

The region continues to experience substantial population growth, particularly in the Western Bay of Plenty sub-region. Rotorua, and more recently Eastern Bay of Plenty towns such as Whakatāne, are beginning to experience population and economic growth after a flat period during the last 10 to 20 years. With regional partners, we are working to manage this growth to ensure it supports well-connected communities and safe, sustainable transport options through:

  • the SmartGrowth partnership’s Urban Form + Transport Initiative (UFTI) in the Western Bay of Plenty
  • Connect Rotorua and Planning for the Future of Rotorua
  • Access Whakatāne, Eastern Bay Spatial Plan and Eastern Bay Beyond Today.

Those living in the region’s urban areas remain heavily reliant on private vehicle use. Nearly 90% of journeys to and from work in Rotorua and Tauranga are by private vehicle. Getting people to use safe, accessible and reliable ways to move around these cities is a priority focus for investment in the 2021–24 NLTP.

The Western Bay of Plenty, which includes Tauranga, is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing areas and during this NLTP period we will be co-investing with partners to increase the frequency of bus services and improve walking, cycling and mobility connections to enable more people to have transport choice and the ability to shift to these transport modes.

Improving safety

During the next three years, $121 million will be spent throughout the Bay of Plenty on improving safety along five key corridors to reduce annual deaths and serious injuries by 18.

Work will continue on safety improvements along 35.8kms of SH2 between Waihī and Ōmokoroa in the Western Bay of Plenty and 36kms of Wainui Road to Ōpōtiki in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. We’ll be investing $14 million to make further safety improvements along a 8.7km section of SH30 between Awakeri and Whakatāne, and on SH5 south of Rotorua.

On SH33, we’ll invest about $10 million on 34kms of safety improvements from Te Ngae Junction to Paengaroa, and $5 million on the SH33/SH30 intersection.

We will continue to work with our co-investment partners to ensure an integrated approach to safety across the region’s state highways and local roads.

Additionally, reducing drug and alcohol impairment and increasing seat belt use in the Ōpōtiki and Kawerau districts through road policing and behaviour change activities will be a priority during the next three years.

Better travel options

Working with our partners, a key focus area in the 2021–24 NLTP will be implementing regional growth plans that ensure there are real travel choice options both within existing urban areas and the new communities as these develop.

Investment will be made to improve the frequency and reliability of public transport services across the region, as well as planning and implementing new public transport infrastructure.

In Rotorua, we will co-invest with partners to deliver better connected cycling and walking facilities and public transport networks to enable transport choice for people.

We’re also working with Rotorua Lakes Council to progress the Connect Rotorua Stage Two programme which addresses safety and connections on the eastern corridor while accommodating for future growth. This is funded by the Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) COVID-19 Recovery Fund.

More than $90 million will be invested in a range of projects to support growth and improve access and safety as part of UFTi. Two business cases will identify ways to change how people travel to and from Tauranga’s eastern and western suburbs to the city’s central business district. The Hewletts Road Sub-Area (SH2) and Tauriko West Connections (SH29/SH29A) business cases will also provide for more reliable access to the Port of Tauranga and support future growth in this area. Cameron Road has multi-modal stage two safety improvements to support urban development.

During this NLTP period, we’ll work with Tauranga City Council on the Tauriko SH29 enabling works to address safety through Tauriko village and at Cambridge Road intersection, providing access to the new Tauriko West development and Tauriko Business Estate. We’ll investigate how to reallocate the SH29A corridor to cater for all travel options with intersection improvements at Barkes Corner and Takitimu Drive roundabout to support public transport journeys from Tauriko to the central business district. More than $57 million will be invested in Tauranga’s network of primary cycleways to support growth in the region and provide better travel choice.

Improving freight connections

We’ll continue to ensure the crucial freight connections are reliable to support the national and regional economies. We’ll continue to improve the safety and resilience of freight connections along SH2 between Tauranga and Gisborne and SH29 between Hamilton and Tauranga.

Through providing better travel options for people within the urban area, people who can shift to other modes are able to, which in turn frees up the system for people that are unable too, such as people in trades and freight journeys.

Under the 2021–24 RNIP, resilience works will be carried out on the East Coast Main Trunk to support freight connections. Bridge 83 (north of Te Puke) will be replaced, resilience works carried out on two other bridges and signal cable replacements made east of Te Puke. Eight kilometres of track will be re-sleepered and 9kms of track re-railed, along with other track and civil infrastructure works to reduce derailment risks, improve drainage, stabilise slopes and improve coastal protection.

NZ Upgrade Programme

To support regional economic growth in the Bay of Plenty, the government is funding the construction of Stage One of the Takitimu North Link between Tauranga and Te Puna through the NZ Upgrade Programme. The new 7km, four-lane corridor will connect SH29 and SH2, support public transport and vehicles carrying multiple people, and provide an alternative route.

For Stage Two between Te Puna and Ōmokoroa, we will seek to protect this route from any development that could potentially make construction of the project more difficult in the future. This gives certainty that the land is available when the project is ready to proceed.

To improve safety and efficiency along a rural state highway at a key pinch point in the Rotorua network, a commitment was made through the regional package of the NZ Upgrade Programme and the Safe Network Programme to upgrade SH5/36 Tarukenga to Ngongotahā.

Road and roadside safety improvements are underway along SH5 between Tarukenga and Ngongotahā, as well as construction of a new dual-lane roundabout at the SH5/SH36 intersection. Project completion is expected in the 2021/2022 construction season.

Investment highlights for 2021–24

Summary of achievements from 2018–21

  • Completed the Maungatapu underpass and improvements to the SH29A Maungatapu and Hairini roundabouts to further improve safety and travel times.
  • Completed the SH36 pedestrian and cycle overbridge between The Lakes and Tauranga Crossing, creating a safe connection across the state highway. This work followed the installation of the Whakapaiwaka overbridge over SH29/Takitimu Drive, connecting Bethlehem and Gate Pā.
  • Opened the Paengaroa to Rotoiti cycle trail, providing a safe off-road link to cycling along a busy stretch of SH33.
  • Completed the SH2 Woodlands Ōpōtiki Shared Path to improve safety and provide a path for pedestrians and cyclists under the Waioeka Bridge in Ōpōtiki.
  • Completed SH2 Tāneatua safety improvements, including two new pedestrian crossings, a dedicated bus bay outside Tāneatua School, a new flush median through the length of the town and narrowing of the traffic lanes.
  • Completed the Rotorua Urban Cycleway which supports the town’s economic development.

Read about a few of the ways that previous investment has delivered for Te Moana-a-Toi | Bay of Plenty communities and New Zealand.