Highway to happiness: Tauranga’s golden opportunity
Source: Nigel Tutt, Priority One Chief Executive
Monday’s announcement from the National Party around investment in State Highway 29 at Tauriko should be a welcome one for this community. For those who may not be familiar with the project, it increases capacity of the road between Barkes Corner to the lower Kaimais, either via widening the road or bypassing it altogether.
Priority One works across the political spectrum; we welcome initiatives that will improve our community and economy, and this project certainly does that. Despite large growth, our region hasn’t had the favour of government investment in the past decade, and we desperately need to catch up.
It is clearly the best transport project that we have available in this region to ease congestion, project access to the Port of Tauranga, unlock residential and industrial land, and to provide better public transport in the future. Pleasingly, State Highway 2 to Omokoroa is also part of the transport policy, which will help congestion and access to work, education and healthcare for our community.
While these outcomes are great locally, the importance of a good connection between Tauranga and Hamilton cannot be overlooked. The Port of Tauranga is of critical importance to Aotearoa’s economy, and freight demand is forecast to increase at a higher rate than population in the decades to come. Since the excellent investment in State Highway 1 around Hamilton, this route is now a key connection for us to the rest of the Golden Triangle. For the good of our nation, it is important for us to keep supply lines to the Port as free as possible.
This project cannot be completed quickly enough. While it is still at business case stage, it needs to be fast-tracked to ensure that we can keep up with expected growth and to unlock housing land in the area. An affordable housing market is essential to living standards in our region, now and in the future. We must act to address this quickly.