National MPs have delivered a 3350-signature petition to Parliament calling for the Government to commit to building a four-lane highway from Tauranga to Katikati.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and Coromandel MP Scott Simpson tabled the petition in Parliament today.

Muller said it would go to the Transport Select Committee.

He said the expressway - including a grade-separated connection from Omokoroa on to State Highway 2 and the Katikati bypass - was "vital" for the community.


"It will help improve road safety, travel times and boost regional economic growth."

He criticised the Government for leaving the Western Bay community hanging over whether it would support the $286 million Tauranga Northern Link, a 6.8km section of state highway from Takitimu Dr to Loop Rd near Te Puna.

"National signed off on it and construction was due to start this year, but it has been put on ice until they can work out if it fits with their new transport strategy."

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has previously said the decisions about which roading projects will be funded lay with the NZ Transport Agency, which has yet to announce its plans for investments in the western Bay of Plenty.

Today the Bay of Plenty Regional Transport Committee signed off its transport plan with improvements to State Highway 2 north of Tauranga at the top of the revised project priority list.

The plan will go to Wellington to inform the agency's decisions.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said National would be disappointed in the "weak" response to their petition.

"The public knows this is a political stunt. National spent nine years neglecting regional roads and throwing money into low-value big city motorway projects. Meanwhile, deaths on local and regional roads were increasing."

Twyford said National used last year's election campaign to promise billions of dollars of roading projects that they had not funded and were years away from being built.

He said in his view, Todd Muller was being deliberately misleading by suggesting the former government funded a 36km four-lane motorway from Tauranga to Katikati.

"Only 6km of that road is a funded project which is still under consideration by the New Zealand Transport Agency."

Twyford said the coalition Government had made road safety its number one transport priority.

"We have doubled the investment in regional roads and road safety. It's not good enough that this dangerous road has been neglected for years. The Transport Agency is urgently working on the best option to make this road safer and ease congestion."