Pork barrel politics: Bridges announces roads for Tauranga

Look Simon, I know you like cuddling unions but it's a really bad look son

“While I’m away, you get to run the country.  Don’t stuff it up”

The Government is pledging roading projects to ease congestion and improve freight links for Tauranga worth $520 million over the next decade.

The largest project, starting construction in 2018, will be the $286 million Tauranga Northern Link.

It will create a four-lane shortcut between State Highway 2 (SH2) to the Highway 29 toll road linking approaches to Tauranga with the main route from the coastal port city to Hamilton.

Another $85 million of safety improvements will also begin between Te Puna and Waihi.

Still 10 years away, but earmarked for up to $150 million of spending in the New Zealand Transport Agency’s budget, is a project to extend the northern link between Te Puna and Omokoroa.

“A business case for extending the TNL from Te Puna to Omokoroa is expected to be completed toward the middle of next decade,” said Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

It aims to reduce traffic through the townships of Bethlehem and Te Puna, provide a better commute into the city, and support industries in the Western Bay.

Bits of budget are starting to leak out. $520 million over a decade isn’t very much for roading, but National are clearly not taking any chances and getting the bribes out there a year early so they won’t be accused of it during an election year.


– NZN via Newshub



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  • MarcWills

    Last year I was traveling in this area, and it was obvious improvements were sorely needed (massive congestion and many pinch-points). Planning for needed upgrades and a demonstrated need – not so much politics as good management I would think. Hardly deserves the headline you have given this announcement. Perhaps if it was DURING an election campaign you would have a point, but mid-term … not so much.

  • Vutekno

    Well it may be seen as pork barrel politics, but it seems to me it is also addressing an acknowledged problem with that route that must be fixed to meet the needs of growing population and traffic.

    That is wise governance from National, one of the many reasons they will be around for some years yet.

  • OneTrack

    No word yet on when Winston is delivering the new bridges in Northland.

  • Cookie Bear

    Let’s face it Key is a Master at this game now with three terms under his belt.
    The condition of Labour (dead on arrival) and the gift that keeps giving Andrew Little as leader, Key can switch self drive to 2017 and put his feet up.

  • Peter

    Great plan, great timing. This project will compliment the Southern link just completed. Once again BOP is ahead of the curve in infrastructure planning.
    BOP is doing the things that Auckland should have done and should be doing.

    • biscuit barrel

      The money is stolen from Rotoruas highway bypass, which detail design was announced before the last election but then recently cancelled.

      Hows that Holiday Highway, one of the original RoNS announced, but now forgotten about.
      people get wise to this sort double dealing where they are later shafted.

      • Peter

        Got to put the money where its going to count. Tauranga is building as an economic powerhouse.
        Maybe Rotovegas will get a look in when the wave of 1 million strong Chinese tourists hits.

        • biscuit barrel

          Still havent explained why they would announce that construction is planned to start and then its not ( after the election)

  • johnandali

    I have family members in the Bay of Plenty, and coming from Auckland, I drive there via Matamata, over the Kaimais, and via Tauranga. The bypass roads have a series of roundabouts, but if you’re travelling south, it’s not too difficult – and the new motorway on the other side of Tauranga is excellent. However, if you’re travelling north, the signage for the road to get you back across the Kaimais to Matamata is the worst I have ever seen, because it’s directly at a roundabout, and hard to see. And if you miss it, which is easy to do, you’ll end up in Waihi, as there are no other signs to get you back to the Kaimais. I often think that road signage is designed by people who live in the particular areas, and who know the roads well, but they never seem to put themselves in the place of the occasional driver who is not familiar with sometimes quite complex roading systems. And that’s my grouch. The idiot who thinks that everyone will know which roundabout exit to take to Matamata/Hamilton via the Kaimais, so they decided that one sign, directly on the roundabout exit corner would do the trick. Grrrr…..

    • Dog Breath

      Tauranga and the Mount are like a black hole. There is plenty of signage for a visitor getting to Tauranga and the Mount but little or confusing signage to help get you out. Visited the area for the very first time a few years ago staying at the mount and travelled to Cambridge everyday. Total frustration was the best way to describe our first attempt to get from the Mount to Cambridge. Fine if you live there and know all the roads crazy if you are a vistor and don’t.
      Another Tauranga mystery, we discovered the toll road that pretty much took us from the bottom of the hill to the Tauranga Harbour wharf costing $2 each way from memory. We travelled at peak times yet we were often alone on the toll road yet the alternative Non toll route was a huge traffic jam, odd way to save on paying the $2 toll.

      • Peter

        buy a smart phone. Use google maps. Never need a sign again.

        • Dog Breath

          Absolutely have one now so take that Tauranga, however in 2010 things were a little different.

          • Neil Dorset

            Use Waze then other users also update traffic conditions/issues . Will also suggest re-routing to avoid traffic jams where necessary and advise of the time gain so you can make a decision. Best app I have come across for this.

  • Keeping Stock

    Given the rapid growth of Port of Tauranga (well documented here, and at Ports of Auckland’s expense), these projects make a lot of economic sense. I would be hesitant in calling this announcement “pork-barrel politics”; rather, it is the Government investing significantly in an area of rapid economic and population growth. A no-brainer really.

  • Ruahine

    I just love all these new roadways that are being constructed and improved. Lots of people being employed. The best bit is nearly all come in under budget and have early completion dates.
    All most feel happy paying my RUC charges.

    • Same, I have no issue with my petrol taxes and RUC building roads.
      Given that the huge amount of money gouged out of us and put in the consolidated slush fund will never all be spent on roading I’m more than happy when some is.

      I object venomously however to my rate dollars being used to steal them off us again for private bus companies to profit from and MAMLs to use for exercise.

    • biscuit barrel

      It will be a toll raod as sure as the sun rises ( like on the other side of Tauranga just opened), so you will be paying lots more.

      Curly question, why do Waikato get nice new motorways without tolls while Northland, Tauranga and Wellington dont?

      • Dog Breath

        Easy first two is punishment for Winston the last is punishment for having a green mayor.

        • biscuit barrel

          So what is BOPs punishment for having toll roads, they have national MPs

          • Dog Breath

            Tauranga was the home ground for Winston for a number of elections, I was being retrospective with my comment.

      • Mountie

        Tauranga locals were asked if they wanted the road built quickly with tolls or in 10 years time without tolls we voted for the fast build option.

  • Jafarma

    I drive Auckland – Mount Maunganui a lot and take the Kaimai’s route as johnandali do. Distance-wise its a bit longer but takes a less time than going via Waihi – Katikati. I only go via Katikati if I’m driving well into the evening when there is much less traffic so dont lose as much time.
    This initiative will certainly help and will be well received but I’m surprised they aren’t going further to Omokoroa and beyond quicker. Perhaps its because with the large number of gullies and side-roads / intersections between Te Puna and Athenree, along with likely costly purchase of orchards to realign, the cost to even think about an expressway is too much to contemplate.
    Is there a bigger picture? i.e. is the primary route from Tauranga – Auckland intended to be via SH1 Cambridge-Auckland expressway/motorways, with future extension from Cambridge to Tauranga once Cambridge – Hampton Downs sections finished in about 3 years? To do that means solving the Kaimai range section – put tunnelling machine Alice to work there once its finished doing Waterview?

    • T Mardell

      A proposed Kaimai Tunnel is the preferred option here, with a connection to the Cambridge Expressway. Connections either side are relatively simple to build.

    • one for the road

      Tunnelling machine Alice already gone – shipped back to Chinese owners…

    • JustAnotherLurker

      Simon Bridges made it quite clear at a recent meeting (15 April) that at $1.5B a kilometer and 9km under the Kaimai a tunnel is never going to happen.

  • Orca

    I would have thought that the “pork barrel politics” tag would have applied more to the likes of advancing Len’s underground train set, which is a total white elephant with almost no economic benefit, while being 10-times the cost of those roads mentioned in Tauranga.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    One can only assume the headline was faithfully reproduced from the Media party version of this announcement. Apart from their normal jaundiced view they have faithfully trumpeted the early Pork Barrel politics adopted by Labour without facts or detail.
    Committing $520 million for infrastructure over a decade is another sign that the Government aim is for continued stability in preference to short term fixes bringing short term results. Followed as usual by long term problems.
    This one ticks so many boxes that are never even on the Media parties checklist which only has 2 options.

  • Brian Anderson

    The Tauranga Northern Bypass has been in the pipeline for many years (as a paper-road) but I understood it had been turned down because of engineering difficulties due to land instability where the required Wairoa river crossing would be located.
    The cost of this was deemed to make the road uneconomic. Perhaps an answer has been found to this or perhaps government funding has solved the problem?

    • biscuit barrel

      Bypass around Papamoa and Te Puke, where built on swampy land filled with peat, but standard methods used to account for that. And the answer is extra money for Wairoa River crossing came from money promised for Rotorua, who have been shafted

  • Second time around

    The roading on northern and western approaches to Tauranga is far below an acceptable standard for traffic flow and for safety. Interest rates are at an historic low and now is the time to invest in necessary infrastructure. Any roading contract will fall within 18 months of an election, past or future, so can always be criticised as payoff or promise. An opposition party will achieve nothing by criticisng the expenditure in the Tauranga region. and would do well to remember how Cunliffe did in 2014 when he promised to terminate the Pekapeka Expressway near Wellington and ingratiate himself with the Green voters.

    • biscuit barrel

      the problem was it was a waste of money
      ‘Mana MP Kris Faafoi told Parliament that for every $1 spent the country would get back only 20 cents’ worth of economic benefits.”

      20C in the dollar.?

      “Labour’s renewed attacks on the Expressway came during a marathon ‘urgency’ session in Parliament to pass the Customs and Excise Amendment Bill (67 votes for, 26 against).
      The Bill raises petrol tax by three cents a litre each July for the next three years – and the
      Government says the money’s needed to help fund roading projects like the Kapiti Expressway which were national priorities.”

      Raising taxes, well there is plenty of money when that happens. an extra 9c litre

      • Second time around

        I would also question the “20c in the dollar” benefit (presumably over the life of the road). There were similar doubts, myself included, over the worth of the Waikato Expressway, but the road is always busy and the traffic flows are similar to flows we see on full motorways in other countries. Kris Faafoi was Phil Goff’s speechwriter before he entered Parliament and he may have picked up some of his master’s bad habits..

        • biscuit barrel

          Its a standard thing, Im surprised you say you can question it based on your expertise ?

          table 5.1
          Total benefits $118.1M Total costs $515.2M BCR 0.2

          They should be used to rank projects so that those of higher value get done first, most should be at least 10x that of the above.
          Our extra 9c of petrol tax being wasted

          • Second time around

            Thanks for that reference. It is the benefit over a 30 year period with traffic patterns as of 2011. The road doesn’t disappear at the end of the 30 years, and if the benefit was reevaluated in a few years a quite different result could be expected. Its proper use is as an ” instant in time” comparison with competing proposals, rather than as a long term projection of the effects the road will have on society- that is why politicians reassess priorities according to their own assessments of long term changes.

          • biscuit barrel

            Yes it could be evaluated in 5 years time and the CBR might be 0.5, still way too low, 15 years it might be at 0.9 ?
            This shows how a rational method used to rank projects has been turned into a pork barrel absurdity.
            What you forget is that money could have been used elsewhere for higher CBR as there isnt an unlimited pool of money. And those roads too will still be around.

  • JustAnotherLurker

    They are only doing something that was planned at least 20 years ago and then sat on. It will not be completed until 2022 and that is another six years of pain for we locals.

  • Brian Anderson

    I’m sure you’re right about highway engineering but the point I was making was that it was judged uneconomic for Tauranga ratepayers – but now is Ok since central government is paying.
    Unfortunately, Rotorua is (at present) a stagnant or dying town, It used to match Tauranga in size but is now barely half the size. I lived in Rotorua for over 20 years until quite recently.