A State Highway 2 action group plans to block the road next weekend in protest against Government inaction on safety and capacity concerns.
More than 100 people attended an at-times heated public meeting called by Fix the Bloody Road campaign organisers in Whakamarama yesterday.
Andrew Hollis, one of the campaign's organisers, said 3pm on Sunday had been chosen for a 30-minute protest hikoi across the Wairoa Bridge as organisers hoped it would be the least disruptive time for locals.
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"We want to keep the pressure on the Government, not the pressure on the community. We don't want to upset everyone in Tauranga by blocking roads."
They were working with local police to ensure the protest would be safe, he said. Police have confirmed this.
Matthew Farrell, another organiser, said the goal of protesting was to put pressure on the Government and Transport Minister Phil Twyford to instruct the NZ Transport Agency to prioritise and speed up its decision-making process around the future of multiple roading projects planned for the area, including the Tauranga Northern Link.
The agency has estimated it will finish evaluating the projects towards the end of this year, February 2019 at the latest.
He said he met agency officials last week and they told him they could speed the process up in response to an instruction from the minister or a directive from the Cabinet.
Farrell said it was an unacceptable delay for the community originally told to expect a decision by August and tired of "buck passing" between the agency and ministry.
"This has been a long, slow, tiring process."
Asked yesterday if he would intervene to speed things up, Minister Phil Twyford said: "The experts need to be able to do their re-evaluation free from politic interference."
He also said the Government was investing $87 million in safety improvements to save lives on the road.
"That will deliver quick results, which a four-lane expressway that would take years to build would not."
Other potential action
- Writing an open letter to the Government, and approaching local emergency services and big corporate businesses such as the Port of Tauranga and Zespri to co-sign
- Push councils to stop new housing developments in areas such as Omokoroa until the road has been upgraded to cope with the higher capacity
- Bussing people to Wellington to protest at Parliament.
SH2 resident keeps 'go bag' for crashes
State Highway 2 resident Sean Lett has responded to so many crashes near his Te Puna home he has taken to keeping a "go box" at his front door.
"We hear sirens, watch the traffic. If the traffic slows we know it's an accident. We go to the end of the driveway and see if we can help."
He said the contents of the box included blankets, gloves, water, sheets to cover bodies, and pillows to put under injured people's heads.
The box was not often required but he said he had been to accident scenes and helped manage traffic in their wake.
He said he had been to around 10 crashes in eight years, and the "not nice" experiences were why he joined the Fix the Bloody Road campaign.