No roads, no growth: that's the message both State Highway 2 campaigners and Western Bay councils are looking to send to the Government.
Following its protest blockade of the highway on Sunday, the Fix the Bloody Road campaign has launched a petition to stop more housing being built in communities such as Ōmokoroa until the road is upgraded.
The petition, addressed to SmartGrowth - a collaboration of Western Bay councils and other groups - already had more than 300 signatures.
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Campaign spokesman Matthew Farrell said SmartGrowth predicted another 43,000 homes were needed to house a population increase of 250,000 in Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty in the next three decades.
State Highway 2 was already well over capacity, he said.
"Given we are getting these major congestion problems and safety issues, it would make sense to hold off until the infrastructure has caught up," he said.
"We will keep doing what we need to do until we get some common sense decisions."
Farrell said he was also speaking to local MPs from all parties.
Meanwhile, SmartGrowth was working on its own ways to drive a similar message home to central Government.
In a leadership group meeting on Wednesday, they will discuss adding a caveat to a planning document for growth in the Western Bay over the next 30 years: the strategy would be a wash if transport infrastructure did not keep up.
Leadership group member Stuart Crosby said that while the education and health sectors had generally kept pace with growth, transport had lagged far behind over the past five years.
"We are at breaking point."
"It is absolutely critical that our transport issues are resolved before we add fuel to the fire - and that's what would happen if we kept expanding," he said.
"The Government can't demand on one hand we need to build more houses and then, on the other, not provide the necessary infrastructure funding."
Crosby said the current Government's funding focus on public transport, walking and cycling was not a good fit for this area.
The transport network was under pressure from the booming economy as well as population growth.
"You can't put containers and logs on public buses."
The message, in his view, boiled down to: "no roads, no growth".
Leadership group member Larry Baldock said housing affordability was also at stake: if the region could not deliver roads, it could not deliver strategic growth, and house prices would rise.
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said the region's transport network was a national issue given the economic importance of the Port of Tauranga.
The port's chief executive Mark Cairns said it handled more than 40 per cent of New Zealand's total exports.
The rail network had so far borne most of the increase in cargo, he said, but more capacity was needed.
"We must have a safe, high capacity road, rail and coastal shipping connection through the port."
The NZ Transport Agency was reevaluating four projects planned for State Highway 2 north of Tauranga, a process Transport Minister Phil Twyford has previously said he would not interfere with.