The safety of one of the main highways leading into Tauranga has been questioned following a fatal crash today.
Tauranga man Parminder Jabbal was killed when the car he was travelling in collided head-on with a large truck on State Highway 36.
The 27-year-old was from Ōhauiti. His death has been referred to the coroner.
Emergency services were called to the crash, between TECT All Terrain Park and the Ngawaro Gorge shortly before 4am. The highway was closed for more than nine hours.
Head of Western Bay of Plenty road policing Senior Sergeant Mark Pakes said the impact of the crash damaged the front cab of the truck to such an extent it could not be towed away. A crane had to be called in to pick the heavy vehicle up before it could be removed, prompting the lengthy road closure.
Pakes said the 44-year-old Rotorua driver of the truck had been taken to Tauranga Hospital with minor injuries but had returned home by this afternoon.
The Serious Crash Unit was investigating the cause of the crash. Pakes said the area was not considered by his team to be especially dangerous.
However, Automobile Association's Bay of Plenty/Coromandel board chairman Terry Molloy said the safety of that stretch of highway was an issue.
"We have serious concerns about most roads coming into Tauranga because traffic is building up so much," Molloy said.
"That particular area on State Highway 36 tends to be a high-speed area, especially as you get to that corner, it can be quite dangerous."
Molloy said he would like to bigger safety investments into State Highways 2, 29 and 36 were critical but acknowledged "there's no silver bullet".
"The problem is even though the road has been upgraded, the build-up of traffic is worrying."
New Zealand Transport Agency systems manager Rob Campbell said it was saddened by today's crash "and our thoughts are with all of those affected by this tragic event".
"We review the circumstances surrounding all fatal crashes, and once NZ Police have completed their on-scene investigation, we will be looking closely at the road and roadside environment at the site of the crash."