Tauranga roads like 'playing Russian roulette', residents say

National Party transport spokesperson Simeon Brown addresses residents at the Bethlehem Hall.

"We're playing Russian roulette with our lives."

That's the message from residents in Tauranga as some spend hours in gridlock crawling into town as traffic issues plague the city.

In recent weeks locals have been posting to Facebook as they crawl from Ōmokoroa into town, and on State Highway 29 from the Kaimai Ranges.

This afternoon National MPs held a meeting at the Bethlehem Hall to air their grievances.

Those who spoke at the meeting questioned what National would do differently.

A bus driver said he drives Year 1-8 students and told the modest crowd "these poor students are stuck on the bus for two hours – it's not fair".

He questioned why locals had to put up with the traffic because of construction for 800 metres of a connecting cycle lane near Bethlehem.

National's transport spokesperson Simeon Brown said under National, work would be halted until the Takitimu Two route from Te Puna to Ōmokoroa had been completed.

Another man questioned why projects on the busy road can't operate 24/7 to complete the works.

Brown said that was part of the consenting framework, but "sometimes you just have to get on and do it". However, it would depend on the projects.

Another man said his trip to town used to take 15 minutes, but he's now sitting in traffic for at least 1.5 hours.

Others asked why so many passing lanes had been removed from the state highway network.

"NZTA is removing a number of passing lanes around the country whilst also wanting to slow us all down. Ultimately, that just frustrates motorists," Brown said.

National's Simeon Brown addresses residents in Tauranga.

He said that can cause more safety concerns than results.

A resident on Cambridge Rd sa she "takes her life into my own hands" when she leaves her property because traffic backs up so far drivers create two lanes.

She says she fears for her 16-year-old grandson who has just learnt to drive and must now navigate the road.

Another Ōmokoroa resident said it's like "playing Russian roulette" trying to merge onto the state highway.

"It's so dangerous, I dread it. And I try and get out of there before 5 o'clock."

She says she's even tried U-turns across the notorious stretch of road, which she admits is more dangerous.

The resident also questioned why a new multimillion-dollar intersection will only be temporary.

An elderly man asked what National's position was on proposed bilingual road signs.

Brown told the crowd in his view, it would lead to more confusing signage.

"We all speak English, the sign should be in English," he said.

"Place names is a different thing but when it comes to like expressways, I want to see 'expressway'."


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