National's Bay of Plenty and Coromandel transport package will create hundreds of jobs and drive economic growth across this fast-growing region, National's transport spokesman Chris Bishop says.
While visiting Katikati today with MP Scott Simpson, Bishop announced a suite of local transport projects that National will deliver in Government. This includes building the full Tauranga to Katikati Expressway, complete with a bypass at Katikati that will be a priority in our first term.
This project will connect the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel with a new world-class, four-lane expressway, replacing one of the most dangerous sections of the roads in the country.
"National's vision is to transform Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga into one economic powerhouse, unlocking their potential so the upper North Island becomes Australasia's most dynamic region," Bishop says.
"By delivering high-quality, efficient transport links we will get our economy growing faster.
"The Tauranga Northern Link was out for tender before the last election and the project has gone nowhere since because Labour cut $5 billion from the state highway budget.
"Labour belatedly put money towards part of this critical project but chose not to fund the final section from Omokoroa to Katikati, including the bypass of the town."
National will invest $855 million in this project, with construction due to start in 2027.
"This is one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the country. There has been 42 fatal crashes between Tauranga and Katikati in the past 20 years. Between 2012 and 2016 there were 18 fatalities, the highest death toll of state highways listed by NZTA," Bishop says.
The Western Bay of Plenty is growing strongly on the back of horticulture but the resulting freight and population increases have put pressure on its road infrastructure. Between 2014 and 2018 the existing road experienced a 28 per cent increase in traffic flow, and traffic volumes are expected to continue to grow.
National will also invest $300m to deliver the SH2 Pokeno to Mangatarata improvement projects that were cancelled by Labour. This road links the high-growth areas of Auckland and Tauranga with the Coromandel but is at capacity with an average of more than 15,000 vehicles using it daily, including peaks of more than 25,000 vehicles.
This highway also has a poor safety record. The speed limit was reduced to 90km/h as an interim safety measure in 2011 and nine years later it remains in place, despite this there were 18 crashes resulting in 34 deaths and serious injuries between 2011 and 2016.
The project will start in National's first term. It will include two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane – with future proofing to allow for a second eastbound lane if required – and four grade-separated intersections. The speed limit will eventually return to 100km/h.
"National will also upgrade three one-way bridges in the Coromandel. These bridges, particularly on main corridors like SH25 into Tairua, have long frustrated locals and tourists alike," Bishop says.
National will begin work on the following one-way bridges in our first term:
· The Hikuai River (Bailey) Bridge - SH25 South.
· The Pepe Stream Bridge - SH25 South of Tairua township.
· The Grahams Stream Bridge - SH5 North of Tairua township.
"NZTA said in 2018 that upgrading one-lane bridges would not occur for at least a decade, from 2029 onwards," Bishop says.
"National will bring these forward and complete them in our first term. Funding will come from within National's record transport infrastructure funding envelope."