Driving on State Highway 2 north of Tauranga requires careful concentration. The road to Katikati is a narrow two-lane rural highway with many direct property and road accesses. There are competing and growing demands from local people who want to make quick trips to and from town, agricultural vehicles that service the horticultural sector, local freight vehicles, and tourists and other road users. The Bay of Plenty is over-represented in centre line and intersection crashes.
The Transport Agency, Tauranga, Western Bay of Plenty, and Waikato District councils and the community are working together to develop a Safe System approach to improve safety on the State Highway 2 Northern Corridor between Tauranga and Pokeno with a particular focus on the corridor between Bethlehem and Omokoroa and on to Waihi. The aim is to understand community perspectives and needs, and implement solutions that reduce the number of crashes and create a more forgiving road environment.
There has been regular investment over time to improve the quality of the road, with the most recent being the removal of a series of sharp curves near Athenree Gorge in 2014.
A further $12m is being invested in the short term to reduce risks of centre line and intersection crashes and to make the road side more forgiving of driver error. A $5m investment has seen 70 different sites treated to remove hazards such as trees to make it easier for people to see oncoming vehicles at intersections, and to install wide centre lines to reduce the risk of head-on crashes. Additional sections of guard rail have been installed to prevent run-off-road crashes. The remaining $7m will provide a roundabout at the intersection of State Highway 2/Te Puna Road and Minden Road, with construction to start later this year.