Locals frustrated about delays compared to deadly SH2 stretch

A protest group that wants to take urgent action to improve one of the most deadly roads in the country is also demanding a moratorium on new housing projects until the road has improved.

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About 300 people blocked State Highway 2 north of Tauranga yesterday and demanded urgent action to improve the road between the city and Katikati.
Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

The Fix Our Bloody Road group says that State Highway 2 between Tauranga and Katikati is alarmingly bad and increasing the population by using it is too crazy until the road is safe.

On Sunday afternoon, people supporting the group took part in a protest that closed part of the road by marching across the Wairoa Bridge just north of Bethlehem.

Approximately 300 people expressed their frustration about delays in completing something done.

A sign on SH2 warning motorists to slow down.

Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

They want an immediate start to make the road four lanes between Tauranga and Omokoroa, a distance of about 17 km, and safety improvements along the rest of the road to Katikati. Without that they say that more people will die.

20 deaths occurred between 2010 and 2017. This year at least four died.

Hear from some locals who live in fear when using the road:

What really strikes the local population has been a boom in housing developments in the Western Bay of Plenty in recent years, but the national road has not kept up.

To make matters worse, the road to the north is a major tourist route plus an important connection for trucks to the port of Tauranga.

Fix Our Bloody Road wants all developments to be stopped in the meantime and has started a petition to make this happen.

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Matthew Farrell of the Fix Our Bloody Road group.
Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Matthew Farrell of the group said that in the coming years about 43,000 new homes are planned for the Western Bay of Plenty.

"We are asking for a moratorium on them to stop developing further housing and to aggravate the already serious problem until the central government comes to the party and does its part with regard to the infrastructure of the national road."

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Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

District Council West Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber supports the call for a better way and says that the fears of the community are sincere and sincere.

He said his advice was caught in the middle.

"We are being criticized for having the highest percentages in the country, but that is based on the fact that we have built all these houses because the successive governments have asked us to help with the housing crisis, but they do not have the cleared away and the central government just seems to be their hands of it. "

Garry Webber said that successive governments have been promising a roading upgrade since 1998.

"We let it postpone for a variety of reasons, but the only thing that does not change is the mortality rate and the number of serious accidents continues to increase and the vehicles continue to rise per day."

The Transport Agency said State Highway 2, Waihi to Tauranga is one of the 12 rural projects that are still being reviewed and re-evaluated.

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Andrew Hollis said it would take about five years to bring four lanes from Tauranga to Omokoroa if the work would start today.
Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Andrew Hollis of the Fix Our Bloody Road group hopes that the united front of the community will urge the government to give it the go as soon as possible to start upgrading to four lanes.

"I am pretty sure that NZTA has already re-evaluated it and that six months is only a delay, a delay without any reason."

Mr. Hollis remains self-assured, however.

"Hope is not lost, the plans are there, the land is owned, we only need the government and NZTA to say, that is all that is needed for this project."

Mr. Hollis said that if work has started today to bring four lanes from Tauranga to Omokoroa, it would take about five years to cover the costs, roughly estimated at $ 500 million.

The Transport Agency said the revision of plans for State Highway 2 is expected within four months and in the meantime the first part of the work on a number of safety improvements between Waihi and Omokoroa will start shortly.

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