Dad fears for tsunami escape route

By Amy McGillivray

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A Papamoa man's fear his family's tsunami escape route would be blocked off by a major roading project have been allayed.

Robert Clark was concerned a rumoured "unclimbable wall" surrounding the new Tauranga Eastern Link, being built between Te Maunga and Paengaroa, would have stopped his family making a break for the Papamoa Hills.

However, Bay of Plenty Times inquiries have revealed the project would include a 2-metre noise wall extending just 1.25km to the east from the Te Maunga roundabout.

A New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) spokesperson said a waist-high concrete crash barrier would be built along the rest of the new road.

Pedestrians could in future cross the highway at the Te Maunga roundabout and the Sandhurst Drive, Domain Rd and Parton Rd intersections.

While the planned crash barrier was low enough to climb over, the NZTA urged pedestrians to cross at the nearest of these intersections.

Tauranga City Council city development manager Paul Baunton praised Mr Clark for having an escape route planned.

"This guy's doing exactly the right thing by planning ahead," he said. "He should leave the keys in his car and the car in the garage and use a small backpack and enjoy the use of his feet. Evacuating the costal strip with the use of vehicles is not effective."

Mr Baunton said new modelling was being done to give the council a better idea of where the water would go and how fast it would be travelling in the event of a major tsunami originating from an earthquake in the Kermadec Trench.

The modelling was expected to be completed by late March and the council would then begin to look at the best escape routes for residents around the city, he said.

Mr Baunton said the modelling would determine if the Tauranga Eastern Link itself would be high enough to keep people above the water level.

If large walls were erected, preventing people from crossing the highway, bundings may be able to be built to get people out of harm's way, he said.

It is predicted that it would take 50 minutes for a tsunami to hit the Bay of Plenty after a major earthquake near the Kermedec Trench.

"It's about feet. It's about having a good plan in place and a little pack somewhere," Mr Baunton said.

"It's about teaching yourself that, if you receive a jolt, you need to start packing stuff up and turning the radio on and seeing what sort of message is being broadcast. This is an earthquake that's got the potential to roll you out of bed and last about 30 seconds."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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