Fight continues after SH2 rolling protest

Photos from Sunday’s protest. Photo Michaela Barratt.

The State Highway 2 community is still determined to stop NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi’s plan to install median barriers to prevent right-hand turns on to side streets.

The State Highway 2 community near Katikati is concerned about the proposed median barriers that NZTA have planned, which would prevent right-hand turns on to side streets, restricting access to their homes and disconnecting them from the community.

On Sunday, June 9, the community gathered for a rolling protest involving vehicles travelling around 30-40km/h from Katikati to Aongatete.

“We’re pretty pleased with the turnout,” says former Westen Bay of Plenty councillor and Work Road resident Mike Williams.

“One hundred and two cars with their hazard lights on, five police cars on different side roads, and a tractor.

“We went from Sharp Rd to Matahui Rd and circled about six to eight times.

“We would have held traffic up by about three to four minutes.”

Photos from Sunday’s protest. Photo: Mike Williams.

Mike says the protest lasted about an hour and 20 minutes, and afterwards, everyone went home or “out for a drink and a chinwag”.

“There were some interesting banners,” he says. “It’s whether the message gets through to NZTA that’s the interesting part.”

“It was really well managed, we got good advice from the local police and the traffic police that monitored the situation were really great to deal with,” says one of the protest organisers, Lyn de Graaf.

“We slowed down people’s journeys a bit but didn’t cause massive congestion. I don’t think anyone was posting on the Facebook group saying there’s a massive tailback all the way to Te Puna,” says Lyn.

Lyn says the protest aimed to educate people about the situation before it was too late.

Photos from Sunday’s protest. Photo: Mike Williams.

“For us, it’s worth it because we’re doing it for the vulnerable members of our community that need an ambulance and every minute counts.”

Mike says if these median barriers were installed, blocking access to right-hand side roads, it would take “another seven kilometres” of travel to access the side roads.

One of the protest organisers, Gino de Graaf, says another result of the median barriers is that emergency responses will be delayed, and community connection to services and support will be reduced.

“The next thing you’ll know, we’ll be lying down on the road trying to stop the work. We just want them to take a moment to do the feasibility study properly, to consider the impact on the community, and to design it in a way that reduces frustration, reduces safety risks,” says Lyn.

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor James Denyer says he has had several conversations with senior officials at NZTA on this topic.

“I also highlighted the community’s concerns in a letter to Minister of Transport Simeon Brown on May 16, following the passionate expression of opposition from a large number of people at the Katikati-Waihī Beach Community Forum the previous day.

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor James Denyer. File Photo.

“On June 9, I attended and participated in the community-organised rolling roadblock on SH2 and saw the commitment of those opposed to the barriers, but note that there is no current indication that NZTA or the minister will change tack and the works are already contracted," says James.

“This project is a trade-off between the proven safety benefits of such barriers and the inconvenience and longer journeys that the barriers necessitate.

“I think a better balance could be struck and have pushed for consideration of gaps in the barrier to allow for at least right-hand turns into side roads, where it is safe to do so, and on the advice of qualified roading engineers.”

Minister for Transport Simeon Brown says Coromandel MP Scott Simpson has expressed to me that there is a high level of frustration with the installation of median barriers across State Highway 2 as this results in lengthy detours for people who live on roads coming off State Highway 2.

Minister for Transport Simeon Brown. File Photo.

“I’ve been advised that 75 per cent of all median barrier works have been completed and that this project was fully funded and committed through decisions made prior to the current Government.

“I have asked NZTA to look at the impact the proposed barriers have on access to residents on side streets off State Highway 2.”

A NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi spokesperson says the inclusion of flexible median barrier is a safety enhancement to the current widening works and has undergone several stages of public and stakeholder consultation (including emergency services). People can read a summary of this here.

“We listened to a range of views expressed during the consultation process, which included concerns about the extra travel time perceived as a result of installing median barriers and roundabouts.

“All feedback is important to us and helped inform the shape of the designs and next steps for this section of SH2.

“We held open days in May 2023 to share the draft detailed design for these improvements; this process included an independent safety audit.

Photos from Sunday’s protest. Photo: Mike Williams.

“Aside from reducing the risk of people being hurt or killed when a crash happens when the flexible median barrier is installed, there will be a minimum 6.25-metre space between the guardrail at the edge of the road and the barrier in the centre, allowing room for emergency services to get past in an emergency.

“Emergency services would expect motorists to adopt common courtesy, ensuring they slow down and move their vehicle as far to the side of the road as safely possible.

“In the event of a crash, flexible safety barriers can also be pulled out of the road quickly and easily to allow access for emergency service vehicles and clean-up operations.

“The design solutions and improvements included in this project are about keeping people safe.

“While we appreciate convenience and travel time are important to people as they move about, our work is proven to save lives and reduce the risk of crashes.

“The SH2 Waihī to Ōmokoroa feasibility design report is available to view on our website.”



Posted on 11-06-2024 16:07 | By Yadick

No right to block our roads. Especially when that's what you're protesting. Until then you had my support. Not now. Just pi$$ed innocent motorists off. Many other ways to get your message across. You could've put the signs on your vehicles and been driving normally EVERY day legally getting your message out there . . . EVERY day.

The Master

Posted on 11-06-2024 16:54 | By Ian Stevenson

He ain't listening... got the same hearing lost issues that the Fab-4 have, they don't hear either, same issue as the Fab-4 have....

A deeper issue.

Posted on 12-06-2024 12:44 | By morepork

There is a deeper question here: Should local people be allowed to overturn decisions taken by a remote authority, when that authority is tasked with handling transport through the locality? The hope would be that both parties would sit round a table and find a compromise, but that doesn't seem to be happening. If an authority like NZTA decides to do something, there is little that the locals can do about it, apart from raise public awareness and lobby the Minister.
It seems that a disruptive protest is becoming the first tool in the box for people who have issues about anything. The protest was well managed but is still disruptive, and when you are looking for support from someone, you won't get it by hostile action against them. Instead, they should have pressed the Minister as a group, and taken Yadick's suggestion for daily signs in cars.

Joseph W

Posted on 13-06-2024 19:02 | By The real slim shady

I live on Work Road and this design is good. Our detour to the closest roundabout isn't too far. My brother almost died turning right out of our road across the three lanes of traffic. The safety improvements have been great, so has the commitment to the Takitimu North Link. Overall, we're much better off. All that being said, can appreciate how there will be a few dozen houses with longer trips after accounting for time saved by jew highway

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