A community's campaign to highlight the urgent attention needed on a Western Bay of Plenty stretch of State Highway 2 has been applauded by the local mayor.
Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber said he was grateful to the community for pushing to reclaim SH2's position as a priority road for a major upgrade.
The campaign - Fix the bloody road - calls for urgency from the Government to make the road safe for the huge increase in traffic volumes.
Public anger has been growing since it was revealed that upgrading State Highway 2 between Omokoroa and Tauranga has been ranked as low as number 11 on a list of Bay of Plenty Regional Council transport priorities in the draft Regional Transport Plan.
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Outrage sparked a public petition that has gained 7000 signatures, ignited the campaign and drew 120 people to a public meeting in Te Puna to discuss community-led initiatives to bring about changes to the road. A Facebook group started on March 14 has since grown to 1700 members.
Webber said the community response was amazing and has reinforced the council's determination to get a commitment from the Government and the New Zealand Transport Agency to get the highway raised to number one on the priority list.
"Let's get past the rhetoric and get the money in the bank to complete the capital projects already agreed on," Webber said.
"The Northern Arterial should have been done 20 years ago when the land was purchased, the route designed and expectations were high.
"Sadly lobbying for the Tauranga Eastern Link superseded political commitment for the Northern Arterial, hence we have this untenable situation today of growth outrunning the infrastructure and people's safety being compromised every day on that stretch of road."
Webber also made a submission to the Regional Land Transport Plan this week and will be meeting Transport Minister Phil Twyford in Tauranga next week to further discussion.
Crash statistics from 2012-16 on Tauranga to Katikati highway
• 18 people died
• 35 serious crashes
• 95 minor crashes