Growth surge hits roading

By John Cousins

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Winston Peters spoke to a crowd of about 300 people on Saturday, saying aspects of this year's Budget were "alarming" for the Bay of Plenty region. Photo/Andrew Warner
Winston Peters spoke to a crowd of about 300 people on Saturday, saying aspects of this year's Budget were "alarming" for the Bay of Plenty region. Photo/Andrew Warner

Road safety campaigners are alarmed at the effect Papamoa Easts growth surge is having on access to their suburb. The current spate of road works is only adding to the shambles.

Latest figures the Tauranga City Council supplied to the roading watchdog showed that average weekday traffic counts on Papamoa Beach Rd had soared by an extra 1100 vehicles a day compared with a year earlier.

The count was taken at the eastern side of the T-intersection with Parton Rd.

Papamoa Easts Evacuation and Road Safety Group spokesman Paul Melhuish said there was no way out for residents except along Papamoa Beach Rd.

Despite the huge growth taking place in the areas new subdivision of Wairakei, he said it would be at least four years before the council extended Te Okuroa Drive to create an alternative access.

"It is such a long time to wait. It is like a real nasty growing pain in an area that is suddenly exploding."

With development racing ahead on Golden Sands Drive and things starting to crank up on the Palm Springs Boulevard side of Wairakei, Mr Melhuish said the council was so far behind the eight-ball that he doubted it could build the Te Okuroa Drive's extension by 2018. Wairakei was planned to be home to 8500 people.

The single access has also translated into community concerns about Papamoa Easts vulnerability to a tsunami and the chaos that would result from everyone rushing to escape along Papamoa Beach Rd.

The issues people are talking about will only get worse.

There is an endless trail of stuff that should have been done years ago.

Mr Melhuish said that with developers calling the tune in Papamoa East, he expected the volume of traffic by the intersection of Parton Rd to have grown by at least another 1000 vehicles in a years time, to reach nearly 10,200 vehicles a day.

Adding to the woes were statistics that showed three-quarters of cars travelling north on Papamoa Beach Rd were speeding. That situation was so bad that the group had asked Western Bays road policing manager Senior Sergeant Ian Campion to beef up the police presence.

Papamoa city councillor Steve Morris said negotiations had begun to buy the land needed for the Te Okuroa Drive extension and the new council had shifted the project to an earlier completion date of 2018.

The only threat to the earlier completion was if the Government did not agree to the introduction of a sunset clause on draft legislation to restrict how development fees could be levied and spent.

He said if the council was unable to collect the outstanding $19 million of debt for community facilities, the money would have to come from ratepayers. This extra pressure on councils financial sustainability could translate into slower progress on Te Okuroa Drive.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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