High­way moves up pri­or­ity list

Waihi Leader - - News - By SAM MO­TION

Fix­ing State High­way 2 north of Tau­ranga is to be­come top high­way trans­port pri­or­ity in the Bay of Plenty.

A Bay of Plenty Re­gional Coun­cil sub­com­mit­tee voted last Thurs­day to put three SH2 projects at the top of the state high­way im­prove­ment pri­or­ity list in the draft Re­gional Land Trans­port Plan.

Im­prov­ing the Te Puna to moko­roa stretch of SH2 jumped from num­ber 11 to num­ber one on the list.

Separated from that project was the work to im­prove the in­ter­sec­tion of moko­roa Rd and SH2, sec­ond on the list.

The cor­ri­dor be­tween Waihi and moko­roa is now the third pri­or­ity.

The sig­nif­i­cant move­ment of SH2 projects up the list — none made the top five in the first draft — will be a big win for the hun­dreds of peo­ple who made sub­mis­sions call­ing for ur­gent safety im­prove­ments on the deadly stretch of road.

Andrew Hol­lis, a spokesman for the Fix the Bloody Road cam­paign, said he was stunned and ex­cited by the news.

“It’s proof that get­ting a good team to­gether be­hind a good cause can re­ally get things done. But the fight’s not over yet. The de­ci­sion comes down to the NZTA and they have the whole of New Zealand to plan for. We don’t know whether we are on NZTA’s pri­or­ity list or not.”

He had, how­ever, taken heart from a let­ter Trans­port Min­is­ter Phil Twyford sent to the re­gional coun­cil say­ing he was “com­mit­ted to ad­dress­ing State High­way 2”.

The sub­com­mit­tee’s chair­man, Coun­cil­lor Stu­art Crosby, said the pri­or­i­ties should send a clear mes­sage.

“We can’t let State High­way 2 lan­guish any longer.”

He said the de­ci­sions made to­day would be rec­om­mended to the full Re­gional Trans­port Com­mit­tee at a meet­ing on June 15 be­fore the plan was rat­i­fied by the full coun­cil.

The fi­nal plan was due to be sent to Welling­ton by the end of June, where it will in­form NZ Trans­port Agency de­ci­sions about how to divvy up fund­ing from the Na­tional Land Trans­port Fund. The Tau­ranga North­ern Link was not on the pri­or­ity list.

The com­mit­tee heard it was con­sid­ered an “al­ready com­mit­ted” ac­tiv­ity, hav­ing been al­lo­cated fund­ing by the pre­vi­ous Gov­ern­ment.

NZTA has not con­firmed the fu­ture of the project. Mr Crosby said it was still a top pri­or­ity for the coun­cil.

In to­tal $1.9b of trans­port projects — which also in­cludes lo­cal roads, rail and cy­cle­ways — are planned for the re­gion be­tween now and 2024.

The com­mit­tee also rec­om­mended NZTA con­duct an ur­gent re­view of speed lim­its along the en­tire SH2 Waihi to Tau­ranga net­work. ¯ O

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