Fixing State Highway 2 north of Tauranga is set to become top highway transport priority in the Bay of Plenty.
A Bay of Plenty Regional Council subcommittee voted today to put three SH2 projects at the top of the state highway improvement priority list in the draft Regional Land Transport Plan.
Improving the Te Puna to Omokoroa stretch of SH2 jumped from number 11 to number one on the list.
Separated from that project was the work to improve the intersection of Omokoroa Rd and SH2, second on the list.
The significant movement of SH2 projects up the list - none made the top five in the first draft - will be a big win for the hundreds of people who made submissions calling for urgent safety improvements on the deadly stretch of road.
Andrew Hollis, a spokesman for the Fix the Bloody Road campaign, said he was stunned and excited by the news.
"It's proof that getting a good team together behind a good cause...can really get things done.
"But the fight's not over yet. The decision comes down to the NZTA and they have the whole of New Zealand to plan for. We don't know whether we are on NZTA's priority list or not."
He had, however, taken heart from a letter Transport Minister Phil Twyford sent to the regional council saying he was "committed to addressing State Highway 2".
The subcommittee's chairman, Councillor Stuart Crosby, said the priorities should send a clear message.
"We can't let State Highway 2 languish any longer."
He said the decisions made today would be recommended to the full Regional Transport Committee at a meeting on June 15 before the plan was ratified by the full council.
The final plan was due to be sent to Wellington by the end of June, where it will inform New Zealand Transport Agency decisions about how to divvy up funding from the National Land Transport Fund.
The Tauranga Northern Link was not on the priority list.
The committee heard it was considered an "already committed" activity, having been allocated funding by the previous Government.
The NZTA has not confirmed the future of the project.
Crosby said it was still a top priority for the council.
In total $1.9b of transport projects - the span of which also includes local roads, rail and cycleways, are planned for the region between now and 2024.
The committee also recommended NZTA conduct an urgent review of speed limits along the entire SH2 Waihi to Tauranga network.
The Bay's top 5 transport priorities
1. SH2 Te Puna to Omokoroa
2. SH2 and Omokoroa Rd intersection upgrade
3. SH2 Waihi to Omokoroa (safer corridor)
4. SH29 Tauriko West network connections
5. Katikati urban (formerly Katikati bypass)
Source: BOP regional transport subcommittee