The NZ Transport Agency’s Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL) project is well on track, since construction started in November 2010.
Construction is progressing well on the Tauranga Eastern Link project, which is the Bay of Plenty’s largest roading project and a key strategic transport corridor for the Waikato and Bay and Plenty region.
Great weather over the summer has meant that good progress has been made and the project is still six months ahead of schedule, which would see it opening to traffic in late 2015. The TEL is the largest state highway project in the Bay of Plenty and it is recognised by the Government as one of the seven ‘roads of national significance’. The project was able to be brought forward due to the community’s support to toll the road once it is completed.
The highway is made up of two sections; the first six kilometres is upgrading the existing State Highway 2 from Te Maunga roundabout (near Baypark) to Domain Road in Papamoa; the remaining 17 kilometres is the tolled section which runs from Domain Road to Paengaroa, at the intersection of State Highway 2 (SH2) and State Highway 33 (SH33). As an alternative to the tolled route, drivers will still be able to use the existing highway through Te Puke, which will be handed to the Western Bay of Plenty District Council once the TEL is opened. The Council is working with the local community to design a more urban development in Te Puke and provide a better pedestrian/traffic friendly environment.
Internationally, the trend for toll roads is to move to free-flow electronic collection and centralised collection processes. The Transport Agency is focused on providing a number of options to make paying the toll easy. Details of the toll collection system, payment methods and final toll prices will be available later this year.
Other activities keeping the TEL project team busy in the last couple of months include traffic switches between Te Maunga and Mangatawa, the TEL family open day in November, the completion of a further two bridges (Maketu Road bridge and the East Coast Main Truck rail bridge), the re-opening of Maketu Road, the re-alignment of Te Tumu Road and pavement construction between Domain Road and Bell Road.
When complete, the TEL will support the managed growth for the area; improve efficiency and contribute to economic development through improved travel times (for example, a saving of 12 minutes between Te Maunga and Paengaroa); provide a more direct route to the Port of Tauranga and provide a safer route between Tauranga and Paengaroa.
Find out more at www.nzta.govt.nz/TEL(external link) including details on its visitor centre and how you can view animations and videos of the project’s progress online.