As a Tauranga resident, I struggle with traffic and congestion. It quite often takes me more than 35 minutes to get from Golf Road to the Harbour Bridge via Hewletts Road in the morning and again in reverse on the way home, and it’s getting worse. Those coming into Tauranga from Katikati, Omokoroa and Waihi on State Highway 2 face the same frustrating congestion issues, spending anywhere between 40-50 minutes in stagnated traffic. The story repeats itself all over major intersections around Tauranga: Barks Corner, Maungatapu/Welcome Bay link, Bayfair, Totara Street, to name a few. The bottom line is none of the intersections are able to cope with increased traffic and we need to do something about it urgently.
Tauranga is one of the most rapidly growing cities in New Zealand, with a growth rate of 6.6 per cent – twice the rate of Auckland’s growth. Our city is suffocating from serious congestion and is starting to resemble Auckland with regular gridlock. In fact, Auckland is a great example of how we don’t want to end up and should be a reminder and motivator for us to do something about it.
I have met with Auckland Transport on a number of occasions and asked ‘What would they have done different 30 years ago to avoid the current problem of congestion today?’ The answer they gave was simple – they said they would have spent more time on network transport planning and made space for planned transport corridors for roads and rail.
What we need is to have an enquiry into our transport system and create a blueprint so our future roading system does not suffer the same fate as Auckland. I am working closely with the Transport Minister Phil Twyford and PGF Minister Shane Jones on affordable solutions that best suit our city to ensure that Tauranga’s growth and transport needs are met as our city grows. I look forward to reporting on future developments for our city and the Bay.