Govern­ment ig­nor­ing fears for safety

Katikati Advertiser - - Your Community Voice - By CHRIS STEEL

The Govern­ment is choos­ing to ig­nore the real fears lo­cals have for their safety when trav­el­ling on State High­way 2 from Tau­ranga to Katikati by not up­grad­ing the route to four lanes, said lo­cal MPs Scott Simp­son and Todd Muller.

The MPs pre­sented a pe­ti­tion to Par­lia­ment last Thurs­day with more than 3000 sig­na­tures ask­ing the Govern­ment to com­mit to fund­ing this Road of Na­tional Sig­nif­i­cance in­clud­ing a con­tin­u­ous four-lane mo­tor­way from Tau­ranga to Katikati, a grade sep­a­rated con­nec­tion from O¯ moko­roa onto SH2 and the Katikati by­pass.

SH2 is a two-star safety rated road on a five star scale. The AA said it is “one of, if not the high­est risk” high­ways in NZ.

Mr Simp­son, MP for Coro­man­del, said the pre­vi­ous Govern­ment had com­mit­ted to build­ing a Tau­ranga to Katikati Ex­press­way as part of Roads of Na­tional Sig­nif­i­cance, but it is clear now that the new Govern­ment has other pri­or­i­ties.

“This road would have seen a con­tin­u­ous four-lane high­way from Tau­ranga to Katikati with wide lanes, grade-sep­a­rated in­ter­sec­tions and a cen­tre bar­rier to sep­a­rate traf­fic com­ing from the other di­rec­tion — all vi­tal safety im­prove­ments for a mod­ern road.

“In 2016 then Min­is­ter of Trans­port Si­mon Bridges com­mit­ted $520 mil­lion to build the Tau­ranga North­ern Link (TNL). That project was go­ing to be a com­pletely up­graded fourlane high­way and would have been un­der way by now, if this Govern­ment hadn’t slashed high­way fund­ing.

“The new plans for this Govern­ment’s TNL in­cludes a new two-lane road be­tween Te Puna and Tau­ranga, with in­cen­tives for pub­lic trans­port and high-oc­cu­pancy ve­hi­cles.”

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said this was woe­fully in­ad­e­quate, showed no un­der­stand­ing of the needs of the com­mu­nity, and lacked any fu­ture vi­sion for the Bay.

“It’s been wa­tered down to the point where it’s un­recog­nis­able. It’s the TNL in name only.”

Fix the Bloody Roads cam­paign spokesman An­drew Hol­lis was in­vited to speak to the Se­lect Com­mit­tee when the pe­ti­tion was pre­sented. He changed his planned speech after hear­ing that morn­ing there had been a se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent on SH2 be­tween a car and a truck, leav­ing a woman trapped.

“This changed my feel­ing to­ward one of the pain of trav­el­ling the road, of the cringe when the lo­cal sirens go, won­der­ing who in the com­mu­nity is af­fected on SH2 to­day. Of the frus­tra­tion of be­ing told a project is un­der way and then that the fund­ing has been taken to fund of­ten ego projects in Auck­land, such as the light rail on Do­min­ion Road. And of the fear of our youth who are about to learn to drive on an in­cred­i­bly con­gested road with ever in­creas­ing ac­ci­dents, in­clud­ing one fa­tal crash ev­ery quar­ter for the past 10 years and a se­ri­ous life-chang­ing in­jury crash ev­ery month.”

In­stead he spoke about the cost to the com­mu­nity of $50 mil­lion per an­num in emer­gency ser­vices and com­mu­nity costs, “let alone the four dead com­mu­nity mem­bers for ev­ery year of de­lay”.

Western Bay mayor Garry Web­ber planned to be at the pre­sen­ta­tion but due to the crash did not make it. His pre­sen­ta­tion was de­liv­ered by Mr Muller. It stated that: “In 1991 when the pop­u­la­tion of the dis­trict was over 29,000 our Coun­cil des­ig­nated O¯ moko­roa as a growth node. Our pop­u­la­tion now stands at 49,000. In 2003 the Tau­ranga North­ern Link (TNL) was des­ig­nated to up­grade the high­way be­tween O¯ moko­roa and Tau­ranga to en­able safe jour­neys to and from the penin­sula. The re­source con­sent was granted in

2017 and the project was to be ten­dered by NZ Trans­port Agency in Fe­bru­ary 2018. Since

1998 Coun­cil has spent over

$100m on in­fra­struc­ture in O¯ moko­roa to en­able it to house

12,000 peo­ple by 2050.

“We as a Coun­cil — in good faith — pred­i­cated our in­vest­ment in O¯ moko­roa on the prom­ise from the Govern­ment that the TNL and O¯ moko­roa in­ter­change would be built by

2012 to cater for that growth. Most of the land has been pur­chased.

“We are tired of the rhetoric. We urge this govern­ment to find it in your hearts — but more im­por­tantly in your bud­gets — to de­liver on the prom­ises of the many gov­ern­ments since 2004 — and fix our bloody road now!”

Muller said the Bay is boom­ing and he wants to see the govern­ment com­mit to the in­fra­struc­ture re­quired to sup­port growth and jobs.

“Re­gional New Zealand de­serves bet­ter — our com­mu­ni­ties de­serve bet­ter.”

MPs Todd Muller, left and Scott Simp­son with Fix the Bloody Roads cam­paigner An­drew Hol­lis pre­sent­ing the pe­ti­tion to Par­lia­ment.

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