Local frustration is growing over a dangerous stretch of road north of Tauranga after yet another serious car accident at an intersection on Friday.
Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber conceded the wheels of Government moved slowly, but said that wasn't good enough for locals angry at the number of serious crashes on State Highway two between Katikati and Tauranga.
The highway is considered one of New Zealand's most dangerous roads.
One person was taken to hospital by helicopter in a critical condition and three more were hospitalised following a three car crash at the intersection of Apata Station Rd and SH2 between Whakamarama and Apata yesterday afternoon.
A 75-year-old woman remained in a critical condition this afternoon.
The crash happened less than two weeks after three people were seriously injured on SH2 at the Omokoroa Rd intersection in a two car crash.
And a week before that crash, two more people were seriously injured when a van and a car collided ion SH2 near the Munro Intersection.
From 2012 to 2016, 18 people died on the road and there were 35 serious crashes and 95 minor crashes.
"Unfortunately the accidents continue, which is incredibly frustrating," Webber said.
"The wheels of Government continue on in a very slow gear."
Angry Omokoroa residents earlier this week threatened to blockade the road if nothing was done to fix the highway, which locals want to have upgraded to four lanes.
Fed up with delays to upgrades and angry at the discovery Bay of Plenty Regional Council Transport Committee had put road improvements to Omokoroa to Te Puna at number 11 on its priority list, locals had already started a petition.
Submissions to the Bay of Plenty Regional Land Transport Plan 2018 were also being encouraged, but that wouldn't wrap up until later in the year, Webber said.
"At best I think it might be two or three years until consideration is even given to starting this highway and it's been on the Government's books since 1991."
A lot of promises to fix the problem had been made, but so far no Government had stumped up the cash to follow through, Webber said.
"When you've got such a death rate, it's just unacceptable as a nation that we let it continue."
About 120 locals attended an informal meeting at Top Shot Bar in Te Puna last Tuesday night to discuss the issue, according to Te Puna businessman Sean Lett.
Blockades were an option if "softer" approaches like the petition, or making submissions to Government didn't work.
Lett said a softer approach was the first option, including making sure as many submissions as possible were made to the Regional Land Transport Plan and writing to roading officials, including Worksafe.
"I've seen people laying on that road [State Highway 2] screaming and bleeding. I'm sick of seeing this," Lett said.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the new Government Policy Statement on land transport would set a "much higher priority on safety".
"We understand how strongly Bay of Plenty residents feel about safety issues on this stretch of highway," he said.
"However it's important to note that the Transport Agency board makes all operational decision about the priority and timing of roading projects at arms' length from the Government.
"A draft of the Government Policy Statement on land transport is expected to be released for consultation later this month.
"If the Bay of Plenty Regional Council prioritises this road in their regional highway programme, there's every chance NZTA will give it serious consideration."
NZ Transport Agency director of regional relationships Parekawhia McLean told NZME on Thursday the Government Policy Statement, which guided the agency on its transport investment decisions, was currently being developed by Transport Minister Phil Twyford.
"We can't pre-empt what will be in the new Government Policy Statement or give further detail about specific transport projects until the Government Policy Statement is released."