15 Mar 2017

Killer road to get bypass

9:24 am on 15 March 2017

A Bay of Plenty town on one of the country's most dangerous roads will finally get a bypass.

Flower were left at the roadside where an unladen logging truck hit the car the men were travelling in.

Flower at the roadside where a logging truck hit a car killing five men inside in Katikati last year. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Angry locals in Katikati demanded the bypass after five Tongan men were killed in a crash on State Highway Two in August last year.

The stretch of the highway through the town is the country's third most dangerous road, with trucks passing through every 30 seconds.

It will be part of the government's $520 million Waihi to Tauranga road upgrading programme.

Minister of Transport Simon Bridges said he was pleased the concerns of the community were taken on board and the road would improve safety and increase economic growth in the region.

The Transport Agency (NZTA) said new information showed the number of vehicles on the road was growing much faster than expected.

"While further work will be required to determine the best route for a bypass and the timing for design and construction, it's clear that removing the state highway from the town centre will keep people safe, continue to improve reliability for locals and tourists and improve access to Katikati," it said.

Katikati residents crowded the town hall for a meeting about the state highway running through the town.

Katikati residents at a town hall meeting about the highway after the crash. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Retired engineer Roger Stiles has been campaigning for nearly 20 years to fix the dangerous stretch of road.

He said he hoped the promise was not an empty one as it was the third time a bypass had been earmarked for for the town.

"We need to make sure that this time [it's] a starter because the reality is that its choking the life out of Katikati business area.

"The road through there just divides the town."

Mr Stiles said traffic noise, particularly from large trucks, was unbearable.

NZTA said public open days on the road improvements would be held later this month.

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