And I'd like some roads, please Santa

By Rosie Dawson-Hewes


Dear Santa, whoops, I mean future councillors.

It's election year, which means it's time for us, as ratepayers and lovers of this fine city of ours, to put together our wish lists for Tauranga.

I've been pretty nice this past three years, paid my rates on time and took an active interest in how we develop our city, so for Christmas, I mean this election, can we please do something about our roads?

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There's a reason this is the top of my election year wish list. Every day I spend time sitting in traffic between the city and the Mount, whether it's on Takitimu Drive just before the Elizabeth St roundabout, or on Maunganui Rd heading to the Bayfair roundabout.

A trip that took 10 to 15 minutes four years ago now takes nearly 40. I don't really mind the time, to be honest. The longer commute at each end of the day gives me a chance to mentally prepare to do lists for the day, or clear my head and unwind after a busy day at work.

But I also know that the Bayfair roundabout is going to be fixed in the near future. So there's a light at the end of the line of cars crawling along at 5km/h.

My concern is for the other bottlenecks across the city: Te Puna, Pyes Pa, Maungatapu, even Cameron Rd these days. And those poor souls in Papamoa who have just one road to get in and out of the fastest-growing suburb in the country. Even when the new road eases congestion on Papamoa Beach Rd, they're all just going to be stationary on Tara Rd instead.

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And yeah, if we're going to be a proper city (which I so desperately want us to be) we can't expect to get across the city in 10 minutes. We do need to grow up and accept that. The reason this is top of my wish list isn't because I'm worried about my half-hour commute today. What I'm worried about is how long it will take in 20 years' time if we don't start addressing the congestion now.

Our city is growing at an unprecedented rate. We live in the best place in the country, so of course everyone wants to move here. But we need to learn from Auckland's errors and start creating roads now that will cope with our population in 20 years.

A reactionary approach will not work. We need to think ahead and invest in a reliable, timely, efficient public transport system now (and yes, that will financially hurt while our population is small-ish, but future generations will thank us) so we're not all in our cars all the time.

Don't get me wrong, our CBD is important and I desperately want a great museum as much as the next person. They are important things to invest in.

But there's no point in spending money on beautiful, fancy amenities if none of us can go to them because we're all stuck in traffic.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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