John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Truckies forced to take long route

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Truckies were forced off Tauranga's new Eastern Link and on to local roads. Photo/File
Truckies were forced off Tauranga's new Eastern Link and on to local roads. Photo/File

Truckies were forced off Tauranga's new Eastern Link and onto local roads when their planned convoy to the joint air and truck show on Saturday turned sour.

"It seemed ridiculous at the time to go the long way around," Mount Truck Show organiser Alex Salter told the Bay of Plenty Times.

She was still unclear yesterday about the reasons why traffic authorities prohibited them from taking the direct route to the airport. "I still don't get it."

However, rather than risk a repeat of the famous Convoy movie where truckies squared off against bears (highway patrols), she backed down after a blunt warning by Western Bay's road policing head Senior Sergeant Ian Campion.

Her original plan was for the 149-truck convoy to leave Parton Rd's commercial area and take the direct route via Tara Rd, the Domain Rd interchange, the Eastern Link, Maunganui Rd and Hewletts Rd.

However, she learned on December 23 that the New Zealand Transport Agency would not permit the convoy to use the Tauranga Eastern Link. The trucks were instead directed onto a largely residential route via the main roads up the coast to Golf Rd and then down Golf Rd and Hewletts Rd to Totara St.

Miss Salter said there was more of a chance to travel convoy style along the expressway than the alternative route, where trucks were ordered to depart in groups no larger than 20 at a time at intervals of five minutes. The time limit was subsequently reduced by a traffic officer at the starting point to hurry things up.

She said that despite the transport plan being knocked back, she intended right up until the day before the show to take the expressway route. She was then warned by Mr Campion that she risked alienating herself and not being able to do the show again if the trucks took the Eastern Link.

Mr Campion said he told her she could run the gauntlet if she liked along the Eastern Link but there would be no co-operation in future if she did not use the approved route. The decision not to allow the truckies to use Eastern Link was made by the transport agency and not police.

Despite the frustrations, Miss Salter said the alternative route "did not end up going too badly" with large numbers of people coming out to watch the trucks. They raised about $6500 for the Trustpower Tect Rescue Helicopter.

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The agency's Bay of Plenty journey manager, Nigel D'Ath said the alternative route was chosen because it had less impact on other traffic. Allowing the trucks to travel through the Te Maunga and Bayfair roundabouts on a busy weekend could have caused major traffic issues and congestion, possibly impacting on thousands of people. "The trucks could not use the Tauranga Eastern Link and get to their destination without travelling through these roundabouts."

He said the agency, its contractors and the city council worked together to come up with the alternative route. Council transport manager Martin Parkes said no complaints were received about the alternative route.

-Mr Campion said charges had been laid after a motorcycle allegedly collided with the police pointsman at the intersection of Golf Rd and Ocean Beach Rd. The pointsman received minor injuries and the rider was charged with failing to stop and careless driving.

The officer worked the rest of the shift.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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