Tau­ranga East­ern Link three years on

Te Puke Times - - NEWS - By AMY DI­A­MOND

There have been nearly 11 mil­lion trips made on the Tau­ranga East­ern Link since it was opened to mo­torists on Au­gust 3, 2015.

But Te Puke lead­ers and busi­ness own­ers are di­vided as to how the state high­way has af­fected the town.

Re­becca Larsen, EPIC Te Puke mar­ket­ing man­ager, said the com­bi­na­tion of a new road­ing layout and hav­ing more ser­vice ve­hi­cles us­ing the by­pass, a safe and at­trac­tive shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence has been cre­ated in Te Puke.

“Since the by­pass, we have seen sev­eral busi­nesses in town mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to their busi­nesses and many new ex­cit­ing ar­rivals,” she said.

Life Phar­macy has had a ma­jor in­te­rior up­grade, In­dian Roots and Street 2 Surf (for­merly Ve­sey’s and Don Bayliss) have up­graded their busi­nesses, she said.

“Tony’s Cafe has also had a big up­grade, brought in out­door seat­ing and cre­ated a lovely din­ing at­mos­phere.”

She said new cafes have popped up in town in­clud­ing Marigold Cafe and The Daily, which took out the top prize in the coun­try as Cafe of the Year.

“The Aberdeen Christ­mas Shed has set up an amaz­ing and cre­ative Christ­mas store with a grotto and top qual­ity Christ­mas or­na­ments and prod­uct.

“They now see visi­tors com­ing over from Hamil­ton and Rotorua as word spreads about their busi­ness, a true des­ti­na­tion shop.”

The down­town area is “re­ally blos­som­ing into a beau­ti­ful shop­ping des­ti­na­tion”.

“With the main street im­prove­ments, I be­lieve we will con­tinue to see more im­prove­ment due to the by­pass and a pedes­trian friendly at­mos­phere.”

Pa­per Plus Te Puke owner, Stu­art Gunn, said it was harder to con­nect any neg­a­tives or pos­i­tives to the open­ing of the road. He said a lot of traf­fic does drive down the TEL but traf­fic in the cen­tre of Te Puke does not seem to have abated.

“How much of that TEL traf­fic would have stopped in Te Puke? No one knows.”

Some lo­cals do com­plain about park­ing short­ages, so he ques­tioned what the town would look like if the TEL traf­fic came through and tried to stop in Te Puke as well.

He said if peo­ple who live south of Te Puke chose to by­pass the town and travel to Tau­ranga to shop be­cause of the TEL there were ex­tra costs like petrol, time and park­ing in Tau­ranga.

But for Te Puke it all comes down to hav­ing the re­tail of­fer­ing that is rel­e­vant to those peo­ple who have a choice as to where to go, he said.

“If we have that rel­e­vant of­fer­ing then why would any­one spend an ex­tra 20 min­utes to get to Tau­ranga then 20 min­utes to find a park and then a fur­ther 20 min­utes to get back,” he said.

Mr Gunn said there has been “con­sid­er­able re­cent in­vest­ment” in Te Puke by some re­tail­ers which showed con­fi­dence in its re­tail fu­ture.

An­other lo­cal re­tailer, Marge Martel­letti of Gif­trapt, said she has two dif­fer­ent view­points.

She said the road was help­ful when she was in Pa­pamoa or Mount Maun­ganui and needed to travel to her daugh­ters who lived in Maketu¯ and Paen­garoa.

How­ever, in her view the by­pass has neg­a­tively af­fected the re­tail sec­tor.

“The ex­press­way has en­abled peo­ple liv­ing the outer ar­eas of Maketu¯, Paen­garoa, Puke­hina, Pon­gakawa to travel to other ar­eas to shop in less travel time. Te Puke has taken a hit in the re­tail sec­tor with the ex­press­way be­ing one fac­tor,” she said.

West­ern Bay mayor Garry Web­ber said it would be dif­fi­cult to say how the TEL con­trib­uted to the lo­cal econ­omy. He said while there were ini­tial con­cerns at how the TEL would af­fect lo­cal busi­nesses, life “seems to have con­tin­ued” and it was great to see large devel­op­ments adding to the vi­brancy of the town.

Tau­ranga MP Si­mon Bridges said the Tau­ranga East­ern Link has been an “amaz­ing piece of lead in­fra­struc­ture”.

“A lot of peo­ple in Te Puke were wor­ried about it [the road] be­fore it was fin­ished. They thought it might mean their town went dead,” Si­mon says.

But he said the out­come has been the op­po­site.

“It’s given the peo­ple their town back, made it more vi­brant and more friendly. Te Puke is go­ing from strength to strength and the Tau­ranga East­ern Link has been a very im­por­tant con­trib­u­tor to that.”

There are mixed views over the ef­fect on Te Puke of the Tau­ranga East­ern Link.

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