Tauranga will become home to one of New Zealand's fastest roads but not everyone is happy about it.
The New Zealand Transport Agency yesterday announced the speed limit on the Tauranga Eastern Link will be raised from 100km/h to 110km/h in December.
The Cambridge stretch of the Waikato Expressway will also have its speed limit increased to 110km/h.
Brake Road Safety director Caroline Perry said she was disappointed.
Brake is an advocacy group representative of families of loved ones killed or injured in serious crashes on New Zealand roads.
"Obviously, we have deep concerns ... We know the faster you are going, the further it takes to stop, the more likely you are going to be killed or seriously injured if you are involved in a crash."
The new speed limit will apply to the stretch of Tauranga Eastern Link from the Paengaroa roundabout to Papamoa's Domain Rd interchange.
Perry said she appreciated the highway had a five-star safety rating but "there are lots of people whose vehicles don't offer much in terms of protection if there is a crash".
"We are human and make mistakes. We also make conscious decisions to break the law and drive faster."
Councillor Leanne Brown, representative for Papamoa and Mount Maunganui, welcomed the change.
"The road has clearly been designed to handle speed. I travel that road quite a bit now and everyone seems to do that speed anyway."
Brown said she would have concerns if the increased speed extended further north than Domain Rd.
New Zealand Transport Agency director of safety and environment Harry Wilson said the highways were selected because they had features such as median barriers, no crossing roads, no tight curves and two lanes in each direction, which significantly reduces the risk of serious collisions occurring.
"We are working to create a safe transport system which is more forgiving of human error, and, for some roads, this will likely result in current speed limits being reduced to improve safety.
Any additional roads being considered for the 110km/h speed limit would require full technical reviews of the safety aspects of the road and public consultation, he said.
Wilson said large signs would be installed on the two sections of the Tauranga Eastern Link
"It's important that people remember that all speed limits are the maximum speed for safe travel in ideal conditions – they are not the minimum, and they are not a target. It's important that drivers adjust their travelling speeds depending on the weather conditions, traffic volumes and other factors."
AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said such highways had fewer crashes than any other type of road and accounted for 17 per cent of kilometres travelled by only 3 per cent of fatal and serious crashes.
"New Zealanders expect speed limits that sensibly reflect a road's risk and these are two of the safest roads in the country so it makes sense to raise the speed limit on these roads."
TEL - By the numbers
The Tauranga Eastern Link is a 21km, four-lane highway and is made up of two sections. The first 6km section is an expressway which runs from Te Maunga (near Baypark Stadium) to Domain Rd in Papamoa and is an upgrade of the existing State Highway 2.
The tolled section is 15km from the Domain Rd interchange to the Paengaroa roundabout, at the State Highway 2/State Highway 33 intersection.
Source - Western Bay of Plenty District Council