State Highway 2 campaigners are celebrating after local transport decision-makers backed their battle to fix the road.
Projects to improve or build bypasses around SH2 north of Tauranga received top billings on a revised highway funding priority list agreed by a Bay of Plenty transport subcommittee yesterday.
Before the public had their say, the draft Regional Land Transport Plan priority list had zero SH2-related projects in the top five.
The revised version has four out of five, plus strong backing for the Tauranga Northern Link.
Fix The Bloody Road campaigners - who rallied hundreds of people in Omokoroa, Te Puna and Katikati to lobby for long-promised SH2 fixes - said they could not have asked for a better result.
Spokesman Andrew Hollis said the subcommittee's backing felt like a "victory" but was not the end of the road.
"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 New Zealand Transport Agency, 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 in which he said he was "committed to addressing State Highway 2".
A spokeswoman for the minister said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on yesterday's news.
Chief executive and mother of four Tina Jenner broke all four of her limbs in a head-on crash on State Highway 2 just outside of Katikati at 3pm on January 10, 2017.
Yesterday she said the reprioritisation gave her hope that other families would not have to go through what hers and many others had.
"This has been discussed for years. This is a great step towards getting an outcome."
Bay of Plenty regional councillor Stuart Crosby, chairman of the subcommittee that revised the priority list, said the priorities sent a clear message.
"We can't let State Highway 2 languish any longer."
He said the subcommittee's recommended changes would go before the full Regional Transport Committee at a meeting on June 15 before the plan could be 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.
Crosby said the Northern Link was not on the prioritised list because it was assigned construction funding by the previous Government, and was therefore already a priority.
He said the regional council had recently granted resource consent for the link, a 6.8km four-lane highway from Tauranga to Te Puna that will bypass SH2.
The committee also recommended NZTA conduct an urgent review of speed limits along the entire SH2 Waihi to Tauranga network.
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.
Top 5 highway improvement priorities
As they stand, yet to be confirmed, in the Regional Land Transport Plan following yesterday's deliberations:
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 (new name for Katikati bypass)
Source: BOP regional transport subcommittee