Taking a look at our transport woes

By: Todd Muller

Todd Talks
with Todd Muller
National MP

 It’s been a great opportunity having my colleague Simeon Brown visit the Bay of Plenty this week. As Opposition Transport Spokesman, he’s found it as concerning as I do to see how many delays and bureaucracy logjams are affecting the ability of our city’s residents to traverse the roads of Tauranga.

We had a visit to the Baypark to Bayfair Link project which has caused absolute havoc for road users and pedestrians in the region for almost five years. This project is both way over budget and hugely delayed, costing more than double the planned $120 million with completion pushed back to late-2023 instead of the planned 2020 opening.

While in the area we discussed the Links Ave issue, which is exercising a number of my constituents. It’s a major thoroughfare with 7500 cars per day but the council has now started a second trial restricting access to almost all cars in an effort to improve safety for pedestrians. Surely there must be other ways to ensure safety while allowing residents to get around. I hope that council take on board all feedback before committing to a permanent closure of Links Ave.

I invited Waka Kotahi NZTA, the agency responsible for most of our city’s projects, to meet with us. They were not available, but I am hoping to have a Zoom meeting with them early next week when I will express my disappointment about the glacial pace of this project. It’s long been a major source of frustration for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists and for those traveling between Papamoa, Tauranga and Mount Maunganui, and is affecting Port freight movements. We have rush-hour traffic patterns at all hours of the day and night, not just peak times.

I also briefed Simeon on the Tauranga Northern Link on SH2 – which should have been built by now but was shelved when Labour took Government in 2017 – that is only just now starting Stage 1. We have no idea when we will see the second stage go through to Omokoroa. Last year the Government pulled $455million allocated for Stage 2 and admitted the project is unlikely to progress in the next 10 years, primarily due to an increase in construction costs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s not a valid excuse – this is one of NZ’s most dangerous roads and is surely more important than Auckland Light Rail, which has so far cost taxpayers $100 million with no end in sight. It’s an absolute disgrace.