Gridlock
Tauranga's traffic congestion is out of control, with new figures showing an alarming increase in the vehicle count at 10 of our busiest intersections.

But what does Phil Twyford, Minister of Transport, think about it? In a guest editorial, Twyford gives his opinion on what needs to be done to solve the city's traffic woes.

COMMENT:

No one wants to start and end their days stuck in traffic.

As one of the country's fastest growing cities, this is becoming an increasingly frustrating part of life in Tauranga. As an Aucklander, I understand this. It's not only infuriating, it's bad for local businesses and reduces productivity.

Mayor Brownless says that transport affects everything; I couldn't agree more.

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The Tauranga City Council has raised concerns about the NZ Transport Agency not approving projects fast enough.

I've instructed the NZTA Board to make sure the agency works closely with local and regional councils, including the Tauranga City Council, to eliminate any obstacles to rolling out our transport programme.

Nobody wants to see Tauranga's transport projects held up.

Locals have also been looking at what can be done about Tauranga's traffic. I'm encouraged that businesses and local community organisations are developing a Tauranga Transport Alignment Project and designing a congestion-free network.

Tauranga has experienced a massive amount of motorway building, but the traffic congestion in the city is worse than ever. I urge local councils to put the various projects proposed in this into their regional land transport plan to be evaluated and progressed.

Public transport is one of the ways Tauranga can address its congestion and help people get around the city quickly, as Bay of Plenty Regional Council Toi Moana chief executive Fiona McTavish has suggested.

She's bang on.

That's why our Government is rebalancing transport investment to give people real choices. It will also help free up roads for those who have to drive.

Whether it's roads or public transport in the cities, freight moving by truck or rail, we want the most efficient and sustainable option to be used.

Early morning traffic on Turret Rd. Photo/George Novak
Early morning traffic on Turret Rd. Photo/George Novak

As has been raised by several business leaders and politicians in the Bay of Plenty Times this week, transport and housing are linked.

Tauranga must have the right transport links to cater for its growth and to unlock opportunities for more housing.

I am absolutely committed to working with the Tauranga City Council, the Western Bay of Plenty Council and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to achieve this.

The councils, iwi and the Transport Agency are now working on an initiative aiming to join up transport and housing plans in the Western Bay, and I'm looking forward to working together on this.

If we don't tackle growth in a joined-up way, the result is what happened under the previous government where high suburban growth around Omokoroa created too much stress on State Highway 2.

Our Government is now addressing this through increased capacity on the road and a package of safety improvements.

If the causes of traffic are not addressed, congestion in Tauranga will get worse. But building ever more gold plated expressways is not the answer.

International study after study has shown the more roads you build, the most congestion you eventually have. As they say, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.