State Highway 2: all quiet on the western front…?

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What’s happening on State Highway 2 the Tauranga West Road at the moment? I don’t know.   Other than the addition of visibility-blocking orange sticks, changing the colour of the “promotional” signs and that red and blue patched cop car cruising up and down; it looks like a continued pattern of nothing real and nothing useful.

I’m over the facebook page comments about the current “g’ment”. I’m over the attempts to name call and blame each other’s driving abilities and habits. I’m over the testosterone huffing and puffing about the speed limit, who’s a “good guy” and who isn’t. But most of all I’m over the lack of action.

Despite the fact that they have stubbornly persisted with starting at “the wrong end of the road” I keep reminding myself that at now “historic” local consultative events the Land Transport Agency documentation made it clear the Agency favoured leaving the existing winding, two-laned state highway from the Omokoroa Junction as a local rural road and developing a new four-laned express way/highway. Somewhere among the ongoing blaming, name-calling and hostility, that seems to have been lost sight of.

What seems to be missing from the overarching policy directives regarding the urban fringe-ruburban sub-region I live in, is an understanding of the rural and semi-rural physical environment, the actual housing and occupation patterns of New Zealand urban fringe districts and down here in particular, the extraordinary numerical growth of households over the last few years.   Add to this road haulage of containers to and from the international Port of Tauranga, visitor and tourist traffic and local trade and commercial users.   It’s called a “state highway” because it is not just a residential road. It has become an inadequate corridor for the functions it is required to perform.

Current governmental policies, which merely suggest that urban-appropriate and successful but simplistic urban transport strategies should be overlain on the sub-region, have been met with derision and vitriol.  Local media and the District Health Board just got in on this act. Biking to work would be “better for our health”.

Because the term “four-laned road” seems to conjure up the vision of hordes of single occupant, petrol-powered vehicles, from now on I’ve decided to use the term “four-laned transport corridor”. It’s necessary, imperative and the ultimate fundamental solution to the current and obvious future needs of the Western Bay of Plenty sub-region from the intensive Omokoroa housing development up to Tauranga City.

It’s been suggested that there could be “four lanes” developed: – additional lanes added to the existing little roadway.  Another silly and short-sighted approach.

The construction of “add on lanes” would significantly interfere with the current use of the existing roadway.   I’ve referred in earlier articles to the inordinate length of time and disruption caused by the development of the Bethlehem and Te Puna roundabouts and the construction of the widened roadway within Omokoroa. In roading construction terms these were insignificant projects which caused elephantine disruption and lengthy travel delays.

This sub-region needs a handful of initiatives to happen simultaneously and immediately:

The commencement of a freestanding four-lane transport corridor for the sub-region (at least from Omokoroa to Downtown Tauranga) and

A stop to

(a) all residential building in the Omokoroa Peninsula

(b consenting further residential sub-division in the sub- region

until roading infrastructure has been developed.

The development of an affordable, effective public transport system.   I have to repeat:-

“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 …

 Effective public transport.

 Park and ride areas need to be created NOW not in twenty years time. And facilities such as toilets built onsite

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. A real round Tauranga bus-service.   Why are all the buses big?

Rail:   where is our rail service? 

Motorbikes and scooters: check out the free parking for motorbikes in Brisbane.   They were everywhere.”

.The implementation of a series of immediate functional safety- focused initiatives “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….”

It is utterly unbelievable that the LTA is still “consulting” on whether to the speed limit on the road should be lowered.

(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”You would expect a conclusion to this article but like current developments on State Highway 2 – the Tauranga West Road – there isn’t one.

* It always seems impossible until it is done.   Nelson Mandela

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.

You may be interested in reading two other articles Rosemary Balu has written about SH2-Tauranga West Road issues.   She has also written a lengthy email to Ministers Twyford, Jones and Genter regarding current government road policies for the Western Bay of Plenty sub-region.  

Death walks the Wairoa Bridge

A clear and present danger: SH2 sucks!

Copy of Email sent to Ministers, Twyford, Jones, Genter.  Email copied to Prime Minister Adern and local MPs Tinetti, and Warren-Clarke and Mayor  Webber and Councillors Thwaites and Murray-Benge  11 September 2018.   Original letter to Western Bay of Plenty District Council and Land Transport Agency regarding SH2 issues sent in 2012! 

“It is the afternoon of Monday 10th September 2018 and there has been yet another fatal incident on SH2 – the Tauranga West Road.  It is no longer good enough for anyone with authority to say that issues relating to this road need to be the subject of ongoing further expert scrutiny (Minister of Transport, Twyford P.)    

While the current Labour Government has inherited the whirlwind that is SH2 north-west of Tauranga there is no way that the Government and its appointed Land Transport Agency Board can ignore the reality of the circumstances of this roadway.   It is imperative that some immediate realistic safety measures are put in place while the demonstrated greater capacity roadway is built. 

The issue is not how in the future we can expand methods of transport to minimize the use of one occupant vehicles the issue is WHAT STEPS CAN WE TAKE TODAY TO MAXIMISE THE OPERATIONAL SAFETY OF STATE HIGHWAY TWO FROM KATIKATI TO TAURANGA. 

The relevant factors are

(a) the existing size and configuration of the roadway

(b) the volume of disparate traffic

(c) lack of alternative transport routes(

d) negative driver behaviours 

From a community perspective, residential development to the north-west of Tauranga combined with the volume of trade, commercial and heavy transport to the Port of Tauranga have created a roadway of inherently menacing character. It is evident that this road passes through a region of significant importance to the New Zealand economy and is a significant secondary route to the Port of Tauranga for freight movement outside the region.  It is also clear from material published in hard copy and online that the LTA itself acknowledges that the current and future population and use demographics of this region require 

(a) larger capacity roading

(b) significant immediate safety measures which is why the section of proposed highway from Te Puna to join the existing Takitimu Drive is the subject of a resource consent and why property owners in the adjacent development pathway have received letters advising them of LTA acquisition. 

In 2012 I wrote to the Land Transport Agency and the Western Bay of Plenty District Council – stating that since arriving in the region four years earlier I had even then noticed such a significant increase in traffic movements that the SH2 speed limit should be lowered from before Pahoia School (Esdaile Raod)   I received no response for the Land Transport Agency and what I categorise as a “get stuffed” letter from inRoads on behalf of the Western Bay of Plenty District Council. 

I have read the Government Policy Statement Version 1 regarding transport.  On Sunday 9th September 2018 I heard Western Bay of Plenty District Councillor Don Thwaites tell the audience at the Black Sheep Whakamarama that the Government Policy Statement requires that we move from “roading” to “transport corridors” and there is no way this region will ever achieve a “four lane highway” to Tauranga.     Such an absolute statement suggests negligent lack of information on the part of the authors of the Transport GPS. 

If there was a bus I would catch it – there isn’t a useful bus service.  There isn’t a bus stop in my district.  There isn’t a park and ride in my district.  If you think it is feasible to ride a bicycle up to Tauranga from here to go to work – please resign – you are unaware of the circumstances of the real New Zealand.    

As a Labour Party voter I am ashamed that the Transport GPS would include provision for an Auckland Harbour Bridge walk-project while the issue of safety on SH2 from Katikati to Tauranga remains unresolved.   

As a Labour Party voter I would ask that you consider broadening the geographic and regional representation of the Land Transport Agency Board.  At present the Board has an evident Auckland weighting. 

Following are my suggestions for immediate action:

1.         Immediately even if on a temporary basis

(a) lower the speed limit on SH2 from Katikati to the  commencement of Takitimu Drive (past Bethlehem) to 70kph  

(b)         lower the speed limit north of Katikati to 80kph. 

2.         Position on SH2 facing northwards (towards Katikati) mobile periodic   traffic   light units  prior to intersections of significant difficulty and concern.    For  example on SH2 

(a)         immediately before the intersection of SH2 and Omokoroa Road  to allow traffic to safely exit and enter Omokora Road and turn  from Omokoroa Road on to SH2 

(b)         at the intersection of SH2 and Plummers Point Road  to allow  traffic from both Plummers Point Road (turning left onto SH2)  and in particular traffic from Barretts Road Whakaramama to turn right across SH2  

©         immediately before the intersection of SH2 and Te Puna Station Road by the Wairoa River Bridge to allow private vehicles with  more than three passengers from 6am to 9am Monday to Friday  to turn left into or right across SH2 

3.         SH2 Remove the “overtaking lanes” on SH2 

(a)         between Omokoroa Road and Plummer’s Point Road towards  Tauranga

(b)          from Loop Road North to Quarry Road  and describe them as “slow vehicles move left” 

4.         Allow  only private vehicles (not commercial or trade vehicles) with more   than  three passengers from 6am to 9am Monday to Friday  to    turn   left into Snodgrass  Road from SH2 and utilise the established  “rat run” and  exit left  towards Tauranga by the Wairoa Bridge 

5.         install a series of operational speed cameras on SH2 from Omokoroa  Road to Bethlehem

 6.         Immediately establish a realistic bus timetable and service for   communities   along SH2 from Katikati to Downtown Tauranga 

7.         Establish an ad hoc community advisory safety issues promotional   group   to liaise directly with the Land Transport Agency until issues  relating to  SH2 have been ameliorated. Rosemary Balu117 Leyland RoadWhakamarama RD7Tauranga 317907 571 8722021 145 5810   

to p.twyford, s.jones, j.genter
rosemary balu   Tue, Sep 11, 2018, 11:10 AM
Copy of email forwarded to the Minister and Associate Ministers of Transport.

rosemary balu rosemarybalu@gmail.com

Tue, Sep 11, 2018, 11:12 AM
   

For your information.   It was particularly disappointing that neither of you attended the community meeting held on Sunday 9th at Black Sheep to discuss this issue.  This is a serious issue for the area you both represent.

to jan.tinetti, angie.warren-clarke

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