Just like everyone else in Tauranga, I was frustrated last month when the NZ Transport Agency announced it would no longer build a new Maunganui Rd underpass as part of the Baypark to Bayfair project. The existing underpass is set to be demolished in October.

The current underpass is used every day as a route for cyclists, children heading to school, and pedestrians visiting the Bayfair Shopping Centre. There is also a retirement village in close proximity to the underpass. With many older New Zealanders not able to drive and with limited mobility, crossing this road without an underpass will be a nightmare! Connectivity around the city is an absolute must and for this project to be fit-for-purpose it needs an underpass.

I am also outraged that this decision jeopardises public safety. The NZTA has flippantly put cost cutting ahead of the welfare of pedestrians. This is a treacherous road and the removal of the underpass is a huge risk with potentially fatal consequences. This is an accident waiting to happen, an underpass is essential to this busy stretch of road.

Sunday’s protest for the Bayfair underpass had a spectacular turn out filled with concerned residents with completely valid concerns. I applaud the hundreds of people who got involved and made their voice heard. I will be doing my part in Parliament to fight for the bypass and ensure this issue is addressed. NZTA must reconsider this decision and work to find a solution for Tauranga.

Clayton Mitchell
New Zealand First MP