The Western Bay of Plenty's mayor is encouraged by positive noises coming from the Government regarding State Highway 2.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the road at Katikati "should be one of the projects that are upgraded in the next GPS [Government Policy Statement on transport]." at a media standup in Tauranga on Monday.
He said he drove it recently and was nearly run off the road, though blamed "bad Tauranga drivers" over the road.
Asked by the Bay of Plenty Times whether the Provincial Growth Fund could be used to help alleviate Tauranga's transport woes, Jones said it would not be used to fix roads such as SH2.
He said Tauranga would benefit from the $500m from the fund put towards increasing rail connectivity around New Zealand.
"If we get more heavy freight off the road then that is good for Tauranga."
Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber said his council was "in complete agreement with [Jones]" about SH2.
He said Jones' statement, and one of a similar vein made by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters recently had left him feeling hopeful.
"I am delighted, encouraged and increasingly hopeful that finally, we will get something delivered.
"And that maybe the last three years of my being the mayor will not have been in vain."
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The NZ Transport Agency recently announced it was investing $101 million to make SH2 between Waihī and Omokoroa safer.
Resident John Laing, who could almost see the road from where he lived, said he received a pamphlet from NZTA about a week ago which proposed wire barriers would be put in place to create a safer State Highway.
A truck driver for about 70 years, Laing believed the safety improvements were making the road "seriously dangerous" and his message was simple.
"Please build roads that are safe and allow people to survive.
"People can't get off the road if something goes wrong and wire barriers destroy cars and people which go through them."
Between 2009 and 2018, 25 people lost their lives and 66 were seriously injured on this stretch of road.
"A lot of lives could be saved with some decent sensible roads.
"NZ Transport Agency doesn't seem to care if people get killed."
Laing believed concrete or steel barriers and four lanes along the State Highway would be the safer option.
In response to Laing's comments, acting Bay of Plenty systems manager Graeme Withington said the wire barriers are safe, effective and relatively inexpensive to install when compared with other types of barriers.
"The Transport Agency uses flexible 'wire rope' road safety barriers down the middle of roads to prevent head-on collisions or along the edge of roads to reduce the consequences of run-off-road crashes."
Flexible road safety barriers "caught" vehicles that left their lane before they hit something less forgiving – such as other vehicles or roadside hazards such as trees, poles and ditches Withington said.
"This flexibility means that the barrier absorbs impact energy, reducing the force on the people in the vehicles, resulting in less severe injuries than other safety barrier systems, including concrete or steel barriers, and from collisions with roadside hazards or other vehicles."