The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) says that preparatory work will begin next week on the $1.8million upgrade of State Highway 2 through Bethlehem.
The NZTA’s State Highway Manager for Bay of Plenty, Rod James, says that the project has been developed to improve safety, travel time and reliability, and reduce congestion through the area.
The first stage of the project is to put power lines underground and to relocate an existing water main and telecommunication box.
“The work to relocate service lines should be completed by July, when the rest of the project can begin,” Mr James says. “This involves widening a 300m section of the highway between the Moffat Road roundabout and the new West Bethlehem roundabout as well as providing urban design features. These features include a new, signalised pedestrian crossing, a planted median strip and double-armed lighting poles.”
“As a result of community consultation we have altered the original design to include extra parking, and features to enhance the connectivity between Bethlehem’s two shopping areas and highlight the urban feel of the township.
“Due to safety issues and land constraints we are not able to retain parking on the northern side of the highway although we have compensated for this by adding more parks where possible,” says Mr James.
The township improvements have been designed to complement the new roundabout currently being constructed by Tauranga City Council just west of Bethlehem. Both projects are integral parts of SmartGrowth’s 50 year strategy for the Northern Corridor.
Mr James says that while this section of the highway is likely to become a local road when Tauranga’s Northern Arterial is built, it still needs to be upgraded to manage the level of growth predicted for the region.
Tauranga City Council is managing the construction on behalf of NZTA. It is expected to be finished by mid-December.
Note to editors: Graphics are available showing an artist’s impression of how the area will look when the project is complete as well as the new highway layout.