A Bay of Plenty road-safety group says a six-month delay on upgrading New Zealand’s deadliest highway is unacceptable and will cost more lives.
The statement was made following Transport Minister Phil Twyford’s announcement of a $665 million investment into BOP roads.
It says a six-month delay on upgrading New Zealand’s deadliest highway is unacceptable and will cost more lives.
While the Government’s focus on road safety has been welcomed by the Fix the BLOODY Road campaign, the group fears that without urgent action - SH2 between Waihī and Tauranga will claim more lives.
“Between 2012 and 2016 there were 18 deaths between Tauranga and Katikati. In the past nine months there have been four more fatalities, including the most recent in Te Puna earlier this month,” says group spokesperson Andrew Hollis.
“We know what needs to happen to make this road safer. We need a reduced speed limit as a matter of extreme urgency, we need wider shoulders and median and side barriers in the highest-risk locations. People make mistakes, but they should not have to die for them on 2-star safety rated highways.”
Andrew says successive governments have passed the buck on this busy road, instead of spending the bucks.
He says every six months of delay, three more people are killed here - whether their driving caused a crash or not.
“You are eight times more likely to die in the Apata, or Te Puna stretches of SH2 than on the average highway. This is hard evidence.
“This is a tragically missed opportunity to reassure residents of the Western Bay of Plenty that their lives matter.”
The group’s advisor Matthew Farrell says SH2 carries 30,000 vehicles per day on one lane in each direction between the country’s largest city and busiest port.
"This is far higher than the safe operational capacity for a rural corridor, with so many local roads and driveways.”
Matthew says the road is the only option through the area locally, regionally and nationally including freight, commuters, school buses and business traffic.
“Traffic almost tripled in the last 20 years. Peak flows are now up to 1,500 vehicles per hour on one lane. It’s only getting worse as time passes.
“This is not a political agenda. It does not matter what colour the government of the day is. This is a heartfelt plea for a fast-track review, a decision.
“Much of this land is owned by NZTA, and the previous government allocated funding for the TNL to Te Puna in 2016,” says Andrew
“NZTA subsequently planned to extend this four-lane road to Ōmokoroa. If safety is truly this government’s top priority, then the deadliest road should have been the highest priority for a decision on investment, rather than the lowest priority behind all the projects announced today.”
Supporters of the Fix the Bloody Road campaign made more than 2000 submissions to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council in April including a 7000 signature petition and accounted for a substantial number of the record 900 submissions to the Government Policy Statement in May.
The group is planning a meeting of campaign supporters on Sunday September 9 to reveal plans for protest action.
Band-Aid “solution” from Tinkering Twyford - Muller
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller has slammed Transport Minister Phil Twyford and the Labour/New Zealand First Coalition Government for “failing to deliver for Bay of Plenty regional roads”.
“The Government is spending a record $16.9 billion on transport, allegedly with a focus on safety, yet they couldn’t find any money for New Zealand’s deadliest stretch of State Highway between Tauranga and Katikati,” says Todd.
“Put bluntly, there are cuts to regional roads and a boost for Twyford’s Trams. He is putting trains in Auckland ahead of lives here in the Bay.
“It’s all good and well to talk about safety improvements for SH2, but what has been put on the table, $65 million, amounts to nothing more than tinkering around the edges.”
Todd says this is a drop in the bucket.
“Our community has been talking about this road for over 25 years, National got it to the tendering stage, and now the Government have pulled the rug out from under our feet”.
“This almost feels like he ignores this region out of spite.
“Mr Twyford argues the Government is making safety a priority – but the best thing the Government could do to enhance safety on our most dangerous roads is to continue with the Roads of National Significance programme which is resulting in some of our safest roads.”
Todd says National was committed to upgrading the entire stretch of road as part of the Tauranga to Katikati net generation of Roads of National Significance Programme.
“The Minister is claiming the TNL was promised but unfunded, when the reality is that in 2016 the National Government announced a $520m funding injection for SH2 between Tauranga and Waihi, and we were planning on doing more.”
Todd says the package included:
- The $286 million Tauranga Northern Link (TNL).
- $85 million worth of safety improvements designed to reduce death and serious injury crashes.
- Up to $150 million to provide for future traffic growth, paving the way for an upgrade between Omokoroa and Te Puna.
“This road is in urgent need of improvement and our community can’t afford to wait for a change of Government to get the job done.”
“The Minister would have understood how critical this investment was if he had taken the time to come and drive the road, but my invitation wasn’t accepted.”