Labour-led government contradicts its own policies at heavy community cost

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I am proud of the way our community has come together over the debacle of NZTA’s handling of the Bayfair underpass. It takes a fair amount of pressure to get our community angry and the removal of this much-used safe route under busy SH 2 has ignited many.

Last Sunday the crowd made it known what they thought of NZTA’s ineptitude to remove this piece of infrastructure. Among them, the Bayfair Underpass Alliance a group of Tauranga community groups who are working hard to make this organisation overturn this absurd decision and try and make this organisation see sense.

Shame on NZTA who chose not to front up to the hundreds of angry protesters opposing this clumsy and short-sighted decision. It begs the question has our community become a scapegoat for what can only be an astonishing miscalculation by NZTA?

I am putting as much pressure as possible on NZTA to ensure it is built and the overpass itself expanded to four lanes because the current proposal is unsafe and will be clogged with traffic on the day it is opened.

Next month the underpass, the only truly safe corridor to get across SH 2, will be demolished leaving old and young alike to navigate their way through this busy and potentially dangerous intersection.

The alternative offered by NZTA is for pedestrians and cyclists to use the signalised crossing at the Bayfair roundabout.  Negotiating their way across a busy four-lane highway is hardly a satisfactory solution for the hundreds of people who use the underpass daily.

It begs the question of how this project increased to a revised cost of $33million on top of a two-year delay, and is reflective of just how this current Government has let people down.

It makes no sense to remove this well-used underpass and is in contradiction to the push by the Labour-led government and local council to improve the walking and cycling connections in our urban areas.

It is this type of community collaboration and effort that keeps everyone on their toes and offers innovative solutions to what is often seen as insurmountable and costly red tape, and I congratulate all those involved. It is commendable to see how our community has come together in strength to help make The Bay a better place to live.

Many of our people are pushing hard for their community. Jo Linthwaite, lead petitioner to build a new school on Omokoroa, Judy Killalea, who is fighting for an after-hours accident and emergency healthcare in Papamoa East, and Sean Lett who is driving the Fix the Bloody Road SH2 campaign are just a few. It all talks to a community getting to the point that this Government just don’t have what it takes. It’s what gets done, what gets built, not what gets spoken that counts.

Todd Muller, MP for Bay of Plenty