Local National Party MPs are petitioning the government to carry on with extensive roading projects promised by National before the 2017 election.
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and Coromandel MP Scott Simpson have launched a campaign to ensure the Katikati to Tauranga four-lane Road of National Significance proceeds as planned.
“The previous National-led Government had committed to a large number of important regional highway projects right around New Zealand, including the delivery of not only the Tauranga Northern Link and the Katikati bypass, but also a full four-lane motorway from Tauranga to Katikati,” says Scott.
“These projects would greatly improve safety and travel times, better connect our regions and boost regional economic growth. However, the new Minister of Transport, Phil Twyford, has now indicated a number of these projects are under review.
“The by-pass of Katikati was warmly welcomed locally and this critical investment must go ahead with construction of the TNL beginning this year as planned. The road must also go all the way to Tauranga because that stretch of highway is currently one of the most dangerous in the country.”
Todd says he is particularly focused on ensuring the Omokoroa community is provided with a grade separated connection onto State Highway 2.
“This investment is critically important for Tauranga and the wider Bay of Plenty region and the government has wrongly thrown the project into uncertainty.”
Tauranga MP Simon Bridges has also joined Hamilton East MP David Bennett in calling to extend the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Tirau and from Cambridge to the Kaimai Range.
“Strengthening the link between the Bay of Plenty and Hamilton is fundamental to economic growth. Tauranga is New Zealand's main port and Hamilton provides many services such as health and education to the south Waikato,” says Simon.
“Getting rid of National's expressway extensions would put a dampener on the great growth we have seen in Tauranga, the wider Bay of Plenty, Hamilton, and wider Waikato.”
David says it would also mean longer, less reliable journey times and more deaths and serious injuries.
“No one has ever died on one of National's four lane highways given their safety features. The further improvements we were planning would save many lives.”
A spokesperson Transport Minister Phil Twyford says NZTA has advised that funding for road upgrades cannot be redirected into rail, so National's concerns are unfounded.
“The Mill Road Corridor upgrade is an Auckland Transport project and planning is continuing. The Labour-led Government has not altered any existing roading projects except Auckland's East-West link and officials are working to identify a lower-cost, better-value option.
“It important to note that the other ‘highway projects' referred to in National's petition do not exist. They were election campaign promises made by National in August and never costed or funded. To suggest the government isn't going ahead with projects that don't exist is misleading. And to suggest non-existing funding be diverted into rail is nonsensical.”