The Labour-led Government is choosing to ignore the very real fears locals have for their safety when travelling from Tauranga to Katikati by not upgrading the route to four lanes, local MPs for Coromandel and Bay of Plenty Scott Simpson and Todd Muller say.
“The previous National Government had committed to building a Tauranga to Katikati Expressway as part of the next generation of Roads of National Significance, but it is clear now that the new Government has other priorities,” Mr Simpson says.
“This road would have seen a continuous four-lane highway from Tauranga to Katikati with wide lanes, grade separated intersections and a centre barrier to separate traffic coming from the other direction. All vital safety improvements for a modern road.
“In 2016 then Minister of Transport Simon Bridges committed $520 million to build the Tauranga Northern Link (TNL). That project was going to be a completely upgraded four-lane highway and would have been underway by now, if this Government hadn’t slashed highway funding.
“The new plans for the Government’s TNL includes a new two-lane road between Te Puna and Tauranga, with incentives for public transport and high occupancy vehicles.”
“This is woefully inadequate, shows no understanding of the needs of the community, and lacks any future vision for the Bay. It’s been watered down to the point where it’s unrecognisable. It’s the TNL in name only,” Mr Muller says.
“The Bay is booming. We want to see the Government commit to the infrastructure required to support growth and jobs. Unfortunately, Transport Minister Phil Twyford seems unaware that there is life south of the Bombay hills and is taking an Auckland-centric approach.
“This is just one of many examples of the Government stripping funding away from regional New Zealand and feeding it back to Auckland, specifically for Mr Twyford’s pet tram project.
“Regional New Zealand deserves better – and our communities deserve better.
“Under National construction would have begun on the TNL last month, but this Government can’t even give us a start date.”