“Death trap” highway improvement delays concerning
The decision to delay the Takitimu North Link Stage Two is not sitting well with the Regional Council, with one councillor calling SH2 a "death trap".
Concerns and regrets are being expressed to Transport Minister Michael Wood following the Government’s decision to delay the timing of the delivery of the Takitimu North Link Stage Two.
In a letter to the Minister, Bay of Plenty mayors and Regional Transport Committee member strongly urge him to reconsider the decision to defer TNL Stage Two, particularly the SH2/ Ōmokoroa Road Intersection Safety Project component, and allocate funding to ensure that the critical safety project is delivered in full - as per the original intent of the NZ Upgrade Programme.
Committee Chairman Lyall Thurston says as a result of this change, they have updated the Regional Land Transport Plan.
“We anticipate a future variation to the RLTP will be needed.”
He says given the concern of the impact of the TNL, the project is included in the RLTP as part of the development of the programme and in the list of activities in the programme (unfunded and unprioritised).
“As the roading north and south of this intersection is improved, there is a heightened risk that the SH2/Ōmokoroa Rd intersection stretch will become an even greater accident blackspot than it already is.
“I do believe the current highway is a death trap to be avoided and motorists play roulette with their lives daily.”
As part of the SH2 Waihī to Tauranga safety improvements, the SH2/Omokoroa Rd Intersection was previously a priority project in the region’s land transport plans.
“Prior to the current safety works progressing, the notorious stretch of road from Katikati to Tauranga recorded 18 deaths, 35 serious injuries and 95 minor injuries in the five years from 2012 – 2016, giving it the status at the time of New Zealand's most dangerous state highway,” says Thurston.
The Committee is seeking urgent consideration of National Land Transport Fund funding, or other, for the Ōmokoroa Interchange, and if possible the four-laning of the Te Puna to Omokoroa part of the TNL Stage Two.
Committee Chairman Lyall Thurston. Supplied photo.
Thurston says the TNL Stage Two link is one of the last major requirements for future-proofing the Tauranga network, including carbon reduction, and the safe efficient movement of freight and people as it would reduce carbon and make moving freight and people more safe and efficient.
“An interchange overbridge at the intersection with Ōmokoroa Road is required to take local traffic safety on to and over the State highway. Consideration of the treatment of all intersections between Ōmokoroa and Te Puna is urgently required to avoid or mitigate any adverse impacts of the planned growth of Ōmokoroa peninsula.” he says.
The Te Puna North stretch of SH2 currently carries around 22,000 vehicles daily.
Around 8000 of those vehicles join at the State Highway 2/Omokoroa Road intersection, where the Western Bay of Plenty District Council is in the final stages of opening up Stage 3 of the Ōmokoroa peninsula.
This will enable a further 3000 houses to be built to meet the Government’s urgent need for additional housing.
Development at Ōmokoroa is signalled in the western Bay of Plenty Urban Form and Transport Initiative, to which the Government is a signatory, through Waka Kotahi.