There's nothing like roadworks to graunch the gears of motorists.
“This project has been a shambles from its inception,” said one punter on the SunLive website.
“While you might be happy sitting in your car for two hours with a flask of coffee, some of us have hospital appointments, children to drop off and work to do.”
It was retaliatory barrage after an online head-on crash with another subscriber. “Remember what the delay is for,” said punter number two. “Small term pain for long term gain.”
What punter number two wants us to embrace are the roadworks at Te Puna – $7 million worth of double lane roundabout to “create a more forgiving road environment and reduce crashes” on the notorious stretch of road that is State Highway 2 between Bethlehem and Waihi.
And caught in the middle of the verbal stoush is the New Zealand Transport Agency. It is taking a conciliatory approach.
“We can understand the frustration the work is causing,” says the NZTA's Bay of Plenty state highways manager Niclas Johansson. “We are taking a fresh look at the way the construction is being carried out and the impact it's having on people.” In the meantime it's asking motorists to be respectful to the contractors.
But punter number one won't be placated. “Any more of this nonsense and Downers (the project construction company) will see what real anger and frustration is.”
“There will always be delays working on a state highway,” fired back punter number two. And he offered some advice to punter number one. “Get out of bed earlier in the morning, pack a cup of coffee and embrace the fact we have major roading developments in our area. These aren't meaningless, they will ultimately make your trip faster and safer.”
And he reminds everyone about the Tauranga Eastern Link project. “The people who grizzled are now singing its praises.” Punter number one won't have a bar of it.
“You must either be one of the workers sitting on the verge having a smoke, a planner with Downers or an ostrich living in the Minden. Get real!”
This verbal road rage is symptomatic of the social media traffic on the Te Puna construction. There has been a stream of messages both in support and critical of Downers and the NZTA. But most have been critical.
“Stupid place for a roundabout.”
“Why aren't they doing the work at night when the traffic is quieter?
“I spent five years in Brisbane and saw changes and improvements achieved in short times frames.” Be good to know who these bureau bunglers are who make these decisions” and “Te Puna is just going to be another bottleneck, the roundabout should never have been approved”.
But it was approved. And while it asks motorist to be respectful to Downers, the NZTA says to continue to expect delays.
“We have asked for Te Puna Station Road to be closed in the morning peak period on work days. Closing this road improves the consistent flow of traffic along SH2 and prevents stop start effect that occurs when traffic merges left or turns right into Te Puna Station Rd.”
The intersection is considered high risk and the roundabout will dramatically improve safety at Te Puna and Minden.
NZTA says construction of the Tauranga Northern Link from the Takitimu Drive Toll Rd to just past Te Puna, will also start in 2018. It'll remove state highway traffic from Te Puna and Bethlehem allowing easier travel through these areas.
And a recent detour, which may have prompted the outcry from disgruntled motorists was a trial to allow the contractor, Downer, to work uninterrupted by traffic.
The detour was monitored and when it caused significant delays it was removed.
It's now on hold while the NZTA reviews why the delays occurred and how it can improve the detour plan. And it has apologised for the frustration the detour has caused.