Community concerns about the priority given to a number of significant roading projects in the Bay of Plenty are being heard across regional and national levels.
The roads at the centre of debate include State Highway 2, between Te Puna and Omokoroa, and SH2 between Waihi and Omokoroa.
At a local level community concern has helped to re-prioritise the projects, following public submissions being made to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Transport Committee.
The result of the submissions means the committee has made improving State Highway 2 between Te Puna and Omokoroa its main priority, and the corridor between Waihi and Omokoroa its third.
Regional Transport Committee chairman, Cr Stuart Crosby says a number of the stories told during the plan’s hearing process resonated with the committee and the public submissions helped the committee produce a better balanced, multi-modal document.
“When we released the draft we knew it would evolve and we now believe we have balanced all the transport challenges, needs and priorities across the region,” Cr Crosby says.
“We know transport in the region, and everything it involves including health, safety and travel times, impacts everyone in their day-to-day lives. We must find new ways of meeting the transport needs of a vibrant and growing region.”
In addition to these results a petition with close to 3500 signatures has also been delivered to Parliament today by Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and Coromandel MP Scott Simpson.
The petition calls on the Government to commit a continuous four-lane highway stretching from Tauranga to Katikati.
“This road is absolutely vital for our community. It will help improve road safety, travel times and boost regional economic growth,” says Todd.
“Close to 3500 locals signing a petition gives a fair indication of the huge level of support the project has in our community – and its being put under threat as a direct result of the Government’s bad transport policies.
“They expect the Bay to pay more at the pump and see less for it. Our community isn’t crying out for a tram in Auckland – what we need is this expressway including a grade separated connection from Omokoroa onto SH2 and the Katikati bypass.
“The Government have also failed to give our community certainty on the TNL. National signed off on it and construction was due to start this year but it has been put on ice until they can work out if it fits with their new transport strategy. It’s simply not good enough”.
“Our community has sent a message loud and clear to the Government. Let’s hope they listen.”