A $520 million funding injection into State Highway 2’s northern corridor is being welcomed with open arms by the Bay of Plenty Regional Transport Committee.
The committee views the funding as being critical to improving safety and meeting the long term capacity needs of the Tauranga to Waihi corridor.
The Government unveiled the $520 million roading package last week.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council deputy chair Jane Nees says the region has long prioritised both the SH2 safety improvements and the Tauranga Northern Link in the Bay of Plenty Regional Land Transport Plan.
“The Tauranga Northern Link bypass from Takitimu Drive to Te Puna will help to address our concerns around congestion and safety issues currently experienced between Bethlehem and Te Puna, which are only increasing with the growing use of this section of highway.”
Announced by the Government last Friday, the roading package includes the $286 million Tauranga Northern Link, $85m worth of safety improvements, and up $150m to provide for future traffic growth which will pave the way for an upgrade between Omokoroa and Te Puna.
Jane is pleased the initial work will focus on improving safety for drivers travelling on SH2, which has a notorious crash history.
“Installing median and side barriers and making necessary improvements to intersections will help to reduce the risk of head-on crashes resulting in death and serious injury of drivers.”
She says is also pleased the Government has earmarked $150m for upgrades of the Tauranga Northern Link to support future growth and capacity needs in areas such as Te Puna and Omokoroa.
“It’s pleasing the Government has reached the same conclusion, that we need to plan for future growth along this corridor and is allocating funding to extend the capacity of the Tauranga Northern Link in these areas.”
Bay of Plenty Regional Council deputy chair Jane Ness. Photo: BOPRC
Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Ross Paterson describes the roading package as “a huge relief”, saying it is the reward for community persistence and is the result of hard graft by district council staff, councillors and the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Ross says he’s long advocated for improvements to be made to SH2, and as a member of the Bay of Plenty Regional Land Transport Committee, he’s pushed for the highway to gain priority in the Government’s funding regime.
And while he is thankful to the Government and transport Minister Simon Bridges for the funding injection, he’s opposes any plans to introduce tolling on the northern arterial.
“I understand the Transport Agency is looking into tolling on national roads – but my personal position is that we in the Western Bay are not interested. We already have two routes tolled in the Tauranga-Western Bay districts and we are not interested in having a third tolled route.
“Particularly as no other region in New Zealand has tolling on their roading projects.’’
Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Ross Paterson.