The whanau was driving along State Sloway 2 this week, thinking of all you lovely folk at Omokoroa and wondering ‘Why are you all going to town at the same time?’
When it dawned, of course you are not.
Some of you left for town ages ago. It’s just that you’ve been waiting in the line of traffic for days; possibly centuries.
Some of you were looking quite excited at finally getting a glimpse of Bethlehem. You know the traffic has been backed up for a fair while when, approaching Bethlehem, you see the three wise men still waiting in the queue.
One with Frankincense, another at a roadside myrrh stall and the third, oh too late, he’s died of old age waiting in the traffic.
It’s just as well that the road people and the government folk have decided to eventually build a bypass thing on this northern route, although it’s going to be a bit late for the thousands of motorists doing the slow shuffle along SH2 every day for the next few years.
Because even with the swanky new roundabout finally nearing completion at Te Puna, there’s still only a single lane each way from there to Bethlehem and beyond.
This unfortunately has turned into a re-run of the Welcome Bay debacle.
It took 40 years for any action there, simply because development was allowed to race ahead of roading development.
We award successive councils just one star, for their underestimated premonitions of how their grandiose urban developments would impact this highway.
It’s a snarl up of biblical proportions.
We’re going to need more than a holy miracle to crawl out of this mess while waiting for the promised bypass.
Common sense prevailed, fortunately, for the southern sprawl of Tauranga city, with the Tauriko and Lakes developments, which have benefitted hugely from the fore-thought of those who pushed for the Waikareao-Judea expressway, which is way ahead of its time.
That, of course, is the best way to build a road, ahead of time.
Not wait decades until wise men are expiring on the highway to finally play catch up with the roads.
The same for the eastern link and the marvellous expressway and bypass of Te Puke. We use it occasionally and can only marvel at the smooth, easy travelling it provides for our discerning readers out east.
The mistake of Welcome Bay however is history repeating itself on the northern route. It will be years before the good folk of Omokoroa, Te Puna and hapu betwixt get to experience anything like efficient, fast commuting.
And if you think it’s just a matter of being patient, consider the cost of congestion on the country, our province, our businesses.
Awkland, which prides itself on having the best of everything, is also the self-proclaimed Capital of Congestion.
It’s estimated the traffic woes cost them between 1.5-2 per cent of the city’s GDP, that’s up to about $2 billion… a truckload of myrrh in anyone’s language.
Carpooling takes backseat
One small contributor to this congestion could be a change of attitude of parents.
As grandparents, we’ve noticed a trend with modern families, away from the traditional carpooling that our parents organised when we were kids. Any sports and events were carefully choreographed so there was not an inch of spare room in the back seat of the station wagon.
When we went to rugby, we’d have half the team jammed into the Holden.
Sure, there was probably only one seat belt between three or four. But carpooling was commonplace and often it was the same parents who carried most of the burden.
And Mr Muldoon’s ‘Car-less Days’ didn’t help the parents who needed the car for work on weekdays, therefore making Saturday or Sunday their only no-go option. But at least the carpooling was efficient and reduced congestion.
Nowadays, it would seem some parents feel they have to be at every match to watch little Johnny/Jenny play his/her sport. Even if he does spend the first half on the sideline and much of the next half in the first aid corner, blood bin or concussion testing.
The young generation seem particularly prone to jumping in a car and tearing off around the city, province, country. Maybe I’ve forgotten how easy it was to drive across the island for a weekend, but it seems the new generation are incredibly mobile and willing to spend half their life in their cars flitting from one adventure to the next.
At least when we travelled there was nothing like the congestion we suffer now.
Best to stay home, roll up a mega-myrrh and take a trip in your own backyard.
The slogan department
Meanwhile, The Labour Party has appointed Jacinda their new leader and the party has decided to ditch the old slogan. Apparently she doesn’t like ‘A Fresh Approach’ so here at RR we’re keen to help find the party a new tag line.