A long and painful ride

It's 6:38am on a dark, dull, sodden, weekday morning.

But that's not the only compelling reason to feel grey and gloomy. City-bound traffic is backed up about seven kilometres from Te Puna beyond what's locally known as the Gecko Depot – the Omokoroa turn-off on State Highway 2.

People are anxious to get to work, but the commuter world is this morning moving at between a standstill and 5km/h. Grindingly slow. And getting noticeably slower.

“It's a dog,” says Doug. “Twelve months ago I would be at work in 25 minutes. Now I spend two and a half hours a day on the bus.” Eyes are rolled, hands are gestured, sighs are deeply sighed. “Yep, it's a dog.”

And impatient headlights on Omokoroa Rd waiting to get onto SH2 are backed up from the Give Way sign at the Gecko Depot right back round the corner and out of sight. It'll take several frustrating minutes for a chance to edge out into the mainstream. And then crawl into town.

“Earlier this month at a meeting, Omokoroa people were asked to put post sticky notes on the wall for the review of the community development plan,” says local community board chairperson Murray Grainger. “The Omokoroa Road/ SH2 intersection featured majorly on the sticky notes.”

Understandable because there are 5400 traffic movements through this critical but choked up T-junction every day. That's a lot of trucks, buses, motorcars and motorbikes headed in and out of Omokoroa, a suburb having major growth spasms. And with the spasms, pangs and pains like their intersection, their very own bottleneck.

“But it's out of our hands,” says Murray. “It's with NZTA. We are very much dependent on the mandarins of Wellington to fix it.”

And what the ‘mandarins' are proposing is something called a grade-separated interchange – a flyover which will allow traffic to flow seamlessly off and onto SH2 from Omokoroa Rd, eliminating crossing conflict. So no roundabout, but an overpass with a four-lane highway all the way to Tauranga.

“The NZTA has gone back to Wellington to seek permission to formalise that preferred option,” says Murray.

“It's not going to happen next week, or next year. It's a long-term answer. But at least the NZTA solution is a proper solution, the right solution rather than a band-aid solution.” So it's suck it up and wait. “So it seems,” says Murray.

“There's been a big increase in the traffic going in and out of Omokoroa – grown markedly over the past two or three years.”

“And a lot of it is trucks and trade vehicles going into the new subdivisions,” says Doug. “And there's only one way in and one way out.”

It's just gone 7am and a Nana has just dropped off her grand-daughter at the park-and-ride for the school bus. She's looking at the congestion across the road – she throws up her arms in despair and huffs. It's all symptomatic for her.

“We came to Omokoroa because it still felt rural, yet only 15 or 20 minutes from town on a straight road. The subdivisions which we thought were 10 years away are now at our back door and we have to allow three quarters of an hour for a trip that should take us 20 minutes.” She's just observing.

But even 45 minutes wouldn't cut it in peak hour this morning. The Weekend Sun leaves the Omokoroa intersection, the Gecko Depot, at 7.52am, through Whakamarama a few hundred metres down the road at 7.59am, a complete standstill at Ainsworth Rd at 8.05am, Te Puna at 8;15am (the best part of 25 minutes to travel seven kilometres), over the Wairoa River at 8.28am and to Bethlehem at 8.32am. That's right, 40 minutes to get from the Omokoroa turnoff to Bethlehem. And finally back in the office on The Strand at 8.46am.

An exasperating experience and not one you'd want to do twice a day. And imagine the cost to a city – all those cars, all that wasted time, all that wasted gas, all that wear and tear.

A bus did drop by the park-and-drive at 7.14 am – there were about half a dozen people already aboard. One more climbed on. Minimal buy-in to the message that buses are “the perfect way to avoid the drive to and from work.” That may be the case with bus lanes or on a multi-lane highway. But in a traffic snarl buses are no more perfect than the cars in front or behind.



13 Comments

@Murray.Guy

Posted on 21-06-2017 18:54 | By Tgaboy

Thanks for the mention, Murray. I am fully aware that this specific article is about Omokoroa and the wider surrounds. But my comments stand as a response to everyone that complains about traffic and roading in Tauranga. On yer bike indeed... best solution ever, where possible.

Tgaboy makes a suggestion ... before reading the article

Posted on 21-06-2017 00:55 | By Murray.Guy

Tgaboy writes: How bout all the lazy, overweight oafs that don't need their car for work purposes get off their seats and bike? This includes students. It's not hard to appreciate why many choose to remain anonymous with the abusive nonsensical contributions. Tgaboy, it is neither reasonable or practical to expect workers, students, to use a bike from Omokoroa to the CBD and return on a daily basis. On yer bike!

Oh and just for a little bit extra ------------

Posted on 19-06-2017 21:41 | By The Caveman

The Te Puna roundabout will do NOTHING, yes NOTHING for the traffic problems north of Tauranga. Why you say - just Google OTAKI traffic problems north of Wellington. It is not uncommon to have traffic backed up from Otaki half way back to Levin. If the roundabout is to be of any use, it needs traffic lights, YES traffic light, to control access to the roundabout so that ONE car, yeas ONE car from the Minden Rd, does not STOP dozens of southbound cars. The simple answer was an OVERBRIDGE - north and south, with feeder lanes UNDER the overbridge to provide access to SH2 for both north and south traffic from the side roads. Been there, seen that, on dozens of similar intersections in Europe & Aussie. Through traffic does NOT get interrupted !!!

YO, Murray Guy has it right !

Posted on 19-06-2017 21:30 | By The Caveman

Is right on the money - the $$$$$ spent on the Eastern Link should have been spent on improving SH2 and SH29. Where does 90% of the road traffic to and from Tauranga come from and go to ?? Waikato and Auckland. What has been spent on SH2 in the last 5 years - BUGGER ALL. What has been spent on SH29 - again - BUGGER ALL - and even then its a so called "speed control signage system" that on my last trip over the hill said 60km when the road was totally DRY with NO clouds etc at 3pm in the afternoon.

Here's a suggestion

Posted on 19-06-2017 18:50 | By Tgaboy

How bout all the lazy, overweight oafs that don't need their car for work purposes get off their seats and bike? This includes students. I bike and notice that each car only has one person in it, maybe every third car a school kid as well. I'm almost certain that those cars are only gonna be parked in a parking building all day. Lazy. Very lazy. Plus, I bike and I'm faster than the traffic at peak times. It's a no brainer people. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Get up earlier

Posted on 19-06-2017 12:58 | By kinakat

I live on Oropi Road,I have a twenty minute drive to work.If I leave home late it can turn into a forty minute drive instead.

James 2 asks why the new tolled Eastern Link as a Priority

Posted on 19-06-2017 10:57 | By Murray.Guy

James2, the Eastern toll road came about following 'political pressure' from the Mayors of Tauranga, Western BOP, the Chair of the Regional Council. The construction was on the list of the NZTA but it did NOT meet the traffic density, business case required. It was bumped up the list ONLY after the Mayors agreed to the highway being tolled, previously NO tolls, now saddled with tolls for a minimum 35 years. Why urgency? All three Councils were (are) very much in bed with selected Papamoa developers and have many $millions eating their heads off with mounting and compounding interest costs on land purchases and deals. 225ha Rangiuru Business Park bought back in 2005 using ratepayer assets of the BOPRC. Embarrassed Mayors, bureaucrats also sought to encourage more Auckland - Kaimai use (less Waihi), on to loss making Route K to up the tolling. income.

Traffic wows getting to Tauranga

Posted on 19-06-2017 03:42 | By cliveL

Interesting article and how true but no mention of the continuing roundabout roadworks at TE Puna which add significantly to traffic delays, not sure it will be much better once roundabout is completed. If you are looking for a classic example of the " extraordinary low productivity" of NZ workers then look no further than Te Puna roundabout, over a year already and still a long way to go before it is finished. Oh dreary me

After

Posted on 18-06-2017 19:58 | By Me n U

After traveling on the Eastern link I really do think the traffic volumes on the northern link are much more substantial for traffic problems from north of Tauranga to the city than from Tauranga to Whakatane highway so I wonder how these priorities where established especially with all the development in Omokoroa etc.Anyone got any clues?Also the northern link is many years away.

more delays

Posted on 18-06-2017 19:22 | By sh2 commuter

Dear SH2 commuters - prepare for long delays at te puna on Monday morning. Those road construction muppets have made it very rough again. Could not keep a smoothish surface with traffic "flowing" could they. If only the travelling public had the opportunity to vote (or not) for those NZTA incompetents like they do for politicians there could be a solution.

here we go again

Posted on 18-06-2017 19:09 | By old trucker

4Lanes all the way to TGA,. pigs fly, its all smoke and mirrors,NZTA, could not FIX ANYTHING ,they make it 10 times worse,NO NEED for roundabout at TePuna just put a 50 k sign at each end and TIM is ya uncle, and would save$$$$$$$millions, just to let the residents out of SNOB HILL, there was nothing wrong at that crossing, widening the road there is all it needed and a slip lane, the down time for trucks crawling along and getting hot idling,NZTA does not care, it will be worse with rd,.about, Elixabeth st rnd,. about needs making smaller,but NZTA will not listen and do what they like,its a easy fix and could be all done over a weekend,HANGON you need a BRAIN for this and above have none between them, (BUT)they still take home their FAT paycheque, thats all they care about,(PAY AND MEETINGS)my thoughts only,No1 Thankyou,10-4out.

If you think it's bad now

Posted on 18-06-2017 19:02 | By Astoreth

Wait for the thousand new houses in Omokoroa to be built and occupied."Smart growth"? What a joke!

Think most people are in traffic longer than they use to be

Posted on 18-06-2017 18:13 | By Angel74

i live on ohauiti road took me half n hour one morning just to get to Greerton, no road works, break downs or accidents just traffic, traffic and more traffic, in the last two years its become a nightmare to get to work, recent roadworks on poike road hasnt helped any..............

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