More than 300 people attended a series of community meetings in Omokoroa about State Highway 2 yesterday.
They were there to hear the latest from leading Fix the Bloody Road campaigners about their efforts to put pressure on the Government to commit to four key roading projects: the Tauranga Northern Link, Katikati bypass, Omokoroa interchange and a suite of safety improvements to State Highway 2 between Tauranga and Waihi.
Organisers said about 210 people signed pre-filled submissions to the draft Government Policy Statement on transport at the meeting.
Among the submitters was Te Puna 16-year-old Kristian Reid, an Otumoetai College student.
As a learner driver, Reid said he found driving on State Highway 2 "quite frightening".
"It's not only because of the speeds - though that is a problem especially at certain intersections - but the fact that a lot of people don't understand the huge risks around those roads."
He hoped making a submission would help raise awareness of how the slow progress towards making the road safer was affecting youth.
Campaigner Andrew Hollis said the turnout, representing a cross-section of the community, was "gratifying" considering the wet weather.
"It's clear the community is still really engaged."
He said the announcement last week of a $28 million roading package for Auckland had left many advocates feeling disappointed.
"The general consensus is we are going to be neglected again."
Hollis said he was not expecting the New Zealand Transport Agency to announce its funding priorities for the next three years - which are informed by the policy statement as well as regional transport priorities - until August.
"People are feeling disappointed with the process. They feel it is taking too long and it is too complicated for us to really understand.
"They want to know why it is taking so long."
Hollis said they were willing to wait until the agency's announcement before taking their protests beyond submissions, but if nothing came of that they had other plans.
"We are willing to be a little contrary and disrupt traffic around Tauranga for awhile if we have to."
Several local body politicians attended the meetings, among them Western Bay of Plenty District mayor Garry Webber.
He said it was good to see so many people making submissions pushing for the four projects, some of which he said he had been awaiting more than a decade.
"We're just here saying get on with it.
"This community will not give up until we get these projects completed. We accept we need to follow the process but we need to do something to make sure the Government understands we are angry."
Earlier this month, New Zealand Transport Agency director of regional relationships Parekawhia McLean told the Bay of Plenty Times the agency was developing plans for what state highway improvement projects will be funded over the next three years.
"The Transport Agency cannot give further detail on future plans for specific transport projects, including the Tauranga Northern Link, until the public engagement process has been completed and the final GPS has been adopted."