Katikati residents demanded a bypass at an open day for people to find out more about the $520 million State Highway 2 Waihi to Tauranga roading project.

A couple hundred people came to check out the first of three open days to be held throughout the wider Tauranga and Katikati residents made it clear they wanted a bypass for their town.

Colin Smith, a retired St Johns staff member, said he had travelled the road from Tauranga to Waihi many times.

He said the roading project was a good idea - "we've got to do something."

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"One of the big things is a bypass for Katikati. They've been talking about it for years, but it's still not happening."

The noise of traffic and trucks rolling through the town was a problem as well as accessing the highway from side roads, he said.

"The traffic is going to get worse. They can't afford not to put a bypass in," Mr Smith said.

Norm Mayo, a fifth generation Katikati resident, said the proposed road was not the best utilisation of money.

Mr Mayo said Katikati had turned into a pinch point.

He said at times it had taken 30 minutes in nose-to-tail traffic to get from Kauri Point to town in the middle of the day.

"There's no proposal for a Katikati bypass which is going to wind a few people up."

Richard, who would not give his last name, said traffic had increased exponentially since he moved to Katikati in the 1970s and roading had not kept up.

"The improvements are planned to be done by 2020 or 2022. That's six years away - it's going to be chaos by then."

The bypass was "long overdue" and the safety barriers were proposed to be built in strange places, he said.

One was to be erected outside his road but he was not aware of any crashes there in the last 22 years.

"Whereas on the opposite side, on the outside bend where they haven't put barriers, there's been numerous vehicles go off the road."

NZTA principal transport planner Mark Haseley said NZTA believed it could achieve everything Katikati needed by improving conditions along the main road.

"We know about access problems and are looking at improvements on intersections, putting in roundabouts and better pedestrian crossings."

It was more cost-effective than building a bypass, he said.

He said the feedback received on the day was "invaluable" and helped NZTA to develop the best options.

Further open days:
Te Puna - July 29, from 3 to 7pm at the WaterForce Premise, 15C Minden Rd, Te Puna
Omokoroa - July 30, from 11 to 2pm at the Omokoroa Settlers Hall, Omokoroa Rd, Omokoroa