SH2 (aka the Tauranga West Road) is an established and patent danger. As one of its users pointed out, with the exquisite irony of the desperate, a level of obvious danger such that if it were a business in New Zealand its owners and operators would be liable for the injury and death of the user under existing health and safety in the workplace legislation.
I live in one of the most beautiful and inspiring places in New Zealand: Whakamarama – the place of enlightenment. A KaImai ranges, rural area on the north-western fringe of an expanding coastal town in the Bay of Plenty (a region known for its horticulture, holidays, retirement lifestyles and international trading seaport): Tauranga.
Recent development pressure, particularly from escapees from significantly cosmopolitan and urban Auckland seeking more for their cashed up lives or those hoping to attain an affordable home have been coming down to the Bay of Plenty. Around Tauranga there’s been massive development of commercial and residential property both in the urban area controlled by the Tauranga City Council and in the wider area governed by the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.
South of Tauranga there’s been major roading undertaken down the coastal fringe – Papamoa, Papamoa East, Te Puke North and housing squashed down onto the strip of flat, sandy land between the high Papamoa Hills and the ocean. I’m not here to discuss the potential negative effects of climate change and tsunami on this area.
To the North West the Omokoroa Peninsula was once a bucolic peninsula where holiday homes hugged its fringe, yachts and small boats floated in a cluster; families played on the calm white sand beach and the ferry to Matakana Island vied with local fishermen for sea surface. Not anymore: the land, designated an area for development and then a “special housing area”, has seen its surface scoured and gouged and subdivisions of once green land pitted with tarseal and concrete. “If you build it they will come” – and yes they’re expecting thousands to come and live here and their vehicles will have to feed onto SH2-Tauranga West Road if they want to go anywhere off the Peninsula.
Unfortunately those responsible for the planning of primary road access along SH2 into Tauranga seem to have spent their lives in different rooms from those gleefully allowing the subdivision of previously rural land. The result a small, inferior roadway burdened to the point of dangerousness is the principal access way from the North West to Tauranga and North through Kati Kati to provincial towns and Auckland: a long, thin, very narrow funnel into which we are pouring increased amounts of petrol.
I’m not sure how this happened because when we migrated down to Tauranga in the early 2000’s I met homeowners along SH2 who told me their land was designated for the building of a “motorway”. One woman (whose home and garden still stand and flourish) told me her garden would be twenty feet down in the middle of the new roadway.
Well that might have been the plan but nothing ever happened except the volume of traffic at certain times of the day, just as in Auckland, is such that a journey that was once seventeen minutes long can now take sixty to ninety minutes. And that’s on a day when there are no accidents. Then who knows how long it’s going to take.
There’s been a festival of abuse, name calling and community advocacy. Outraged advocates seeking a new four laned highway. “Fix the Bloody Road”. Long-term politicians ousted from the top table suggesting if we’d had them for 12 years and not just 9 they would have miraculously conjured a road. Media attention to the crudely lettered signs and instagram worthy installations. A public meeting(s). $5 bumper stickers, stories published about lives destroyed by the road or lives miraculously saved from injury and death. Community members using the action and advocacy facebook page to slag off the driving speed, behaviours and habits of near neighbours. And disgust at the attempts to make the existing road safer: hilarious new signs about danger and speed while leaving the existing open road speed limits and overtaking lanes untouched; wider brighter lines on the road and the addition of those little poles in lines at intersections – some of these actually block the view of oncoming traffic and have to thinned out.
There’s a result of sorts, the need to do something to the road is acknowledged and bumped up a local list of priorities. But this is not a local road, it’s a state highway. So there are still some weeks to go before the over-arching nationally focused Land Transport Authority discloses its decision. And then what?
The road from the SH2 turnoff down through the Omokoroa Peninsula has been upgraded, widened, roundabouts put in. It’s been under construction for such a long time you would think they had been digging it with teaspoons. If historical road builders were this slow there’d be no Great Wall of China, no Hadrian’s Wall and certainly no Roman roads around Britain.
If the construction time frame of a four lane highway is the anything like the time taken to create the Te Puna roundabout or the Omokoroa Peninsula Road, babies being born now will be pulling on their work boots, finishing their second degree or drinking a cold drink somewhere other than Whakamarama.
And if the section of four lane roadway from Omokoroa to Tauranga does “proceed” who is going to pay for it? Most probably us….. A regional petrol tax? A road toll – would that discourage the truck and trailer units and logging trusts hurtling down to the Port of Tauranga – probably not, so someone else would be paying for that too.
You only need to go up to Auckland and try to drive down the Southern Motorway to know that creating an additional four-laned roadway is not going to be the panacea we are seeking. And whether a car is powered by petrol, diesel, bio-diesel or electricity it’s the number of vehicles on the road at specific times of the day that creates an ongoing issue.
Suggesting what we do in the meantime doesn’t mean we don’t need the four-laned road. But in reality we are going to be stuck with what we’ve got for a considerable period of time whether they start on Monday morning the 16th of July 2018 or not.
1.To acknowledge the diversity of users on the roadway which is an access way to the Port of Tauranga and have differential speed limits for different periods of the day.
(a) 6am to 7pm the speed limit needs to be lowered to take into account the volume of private vehicle users. Most probably the speed limit should be 70kph.
(b) 7pm to 6am the speed limit should be 90kph not 100kph anywhere
(c) All the overtaking lanes should be converted to “slow vehicle lanes”
2, Effective public transport. Buses that run on the half hour. Buses that run early in the morning and late at night. Feeder bus services. Buses with bicycle trailers. Buses with seating sufficiently wide enough for daily “luggage”. Fares that are affordable and concession cards easy to obtain.
3. Park and ride areas need to be created NOW not in twenty years time. And facilities such as toilets built onsite.
4. Rail: where is our rail service?
5. Motorbikes and scooters: check out the free parking for motorbikes in Brisbane. They were everywhere.
6. A real round Tauranga bus-service. Why are all the buses big?
I don’t think I’ll be driving on a four-laned highway from Omokoroa to Tauranga in my lifetime. I think my section of SH2-Tauranga West Road will be it and to share a phrase “this road sucks”.
This Road Sucks (and Other Street Signs We Really Need) Dan Consiglio & Brad DeMarea Running Press, Philadelphia 2014 was found on the shelves of the Tauranga City Library. We thank the authors for their awareness of SH2!
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
(or we think you should check this out!)
ARTbop is promoting poetry in the Western Bay of Plenty
Established spoken word, slam poet and performance poet Dhaivat Mehta and author, reviewer and poet Marcus Hobson are at the heart of a poetry initiative to give Whakamarama District locals the opportunity to meet and share their spoken words with others. Meeting on the second Wednesday of every month and providing an evening of entertaining words and thought from 6.00pm to 8.30pm. We are currently deciding on our venue as the Black Sheep at Whakamarama will not be opening on Wednesday evenings. We’ll keep you up to date and in the meantime, the fabulous Black Sheep Curry Night will now be on Thursdays!
SPOKEN WORD POETRY
Join us every second Wednesday of the month,
6.00pm to 8.30pm
Read your own poems or poems by your favourite poet. Enjoy the power of the spoken word!
Phone: 07 571 8722 021 145 5810
You can hear Dhaivat Mehata’s collaborative original word and music project with Kingsley Smith on their You Tube channel: TRYPTOFUNK Here’s a taste…. Liquid of the Godz (Part 1) Other parts of this series are also now available on YouTube.
Stella Clark: at Harry Maddox Kati Kati until Saturday 21st July 2018.
Stella’s Information and Contact Details:
Harry Maddox Gallery:
Address: 18 Main Road, Katikati
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-4:30pm Sat-Sun 9am-1pm
Phone: 07-549 2592
The Historic Village Galleries
We recommend you visit the People’s Gallery and the smaller Incubator Gallery to view the current exhibitions and the recently opened Imprint gallery and art space. From a recent exhibition of sculpture at the People’s Gallery Photo Lee Switzer An exhibition opening at the Incubator Gallery Photo Lee Switzer
Also, the Tauranga Art Gallery in its large upstairs gallery area is showing the selected finalists in the 2018 Miles Art Awards. This is a diverse and interesting collection of work. There is a small gallery retail space.
Check in with Creative Bay of Plenty opposite in Willow Street to collect one of the updated arts trail brochures for Tauranga, Mt Maunganui and surrounds. A Macandmor production: and check out their newly developed arty email you can subscribe to.
When you are in the Downtown Tauranga area you can visit The Art Lounge on Devonport Road, and Macandmor in the Goddard Centre Arcade. You’ll also want a warming coffee, treat or lunch in one of Downtown Tauranga’s cafes. Enjoy your creative winter in Tauranga Moana and the Bay of Plenty!
THE AFFORDABLE ART & ARTISAN FAIR AT THE BLACK SHEEP WHAKAMARAMA
And don’t forget the next Affordable Art & Artisan Fair The Fairs are held within the Black Sheep Cafe & Restaurant complex on the last Sunday of every month 11am to 3pm. There is heaps of parking, clean toilets and wonderful food and coffee. There’s live music. There’s an event prize you can win. If you would like to join us as an exhibitor/retailer of your original creativity or artisan products you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are sign posted along SH2 with signage to the turnoff of SH2 and Plummer’s Point Road. You won’t be able to miss us! Here’s just a taste of what you’ll find. We’re indoors over winter months and outside in the Summer!