A display outside of BOP Regional Council, during a protest this week. Photo: Ryan Wood.
Personal and heartfelt stories were amongst more than 150 submissions verbally delivered to a hearing panel in Tauranga this week in relation to the draft Regional Land Transport Plan.
The draft Plan outlines an initial prioritised list of 35 transport projects from Waihi Beach in the west, including Rotorua and through to Opotiki in the east, and incorporating everything from state highway network and local road improvements, to public transport and cycling projects.
Regional Transport Committee chairman Stuart Crosby says it took a lot of courage from a number of speakers to share their stories to support written submissions – 1,900 of which were received by Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
“We know that transport in the region, and everything it involves including health, safety and travel times, impacts everyone in their day to day lives. This draft planning process provides a way for people to be heard,” says Stuart.
“The committee asked people to tell their stories and for that we are grateful. For some, talking about issues around State highway 2 is deeply personal, and we thank them for taking the time and effort to deliver their message.”
While submissions around State highway 2 dominated the three days of hearings, submitters also highlighted the way transport affects the economy, jobs and quality of life.
“It’s important to emphasise that this is a draft regional plan and this was reflected in the variety of submissions we heard which included Port of Tauranga, Zespri, Rotorua Airport, the region’s DHB’s and others.
“We knew when we released the draft plan that it would likely evolve, especially in light of the new government and their recently released transport policy statement.
“Our role is to balance all of the transport challenges, needs and priorities across the region, and then put our best case forward to NZTA.”
The Regional Transport Committee will deliberate on the draft plan in early May, with a recommendation to be made to Bay of Plenty Regional Council in June.
The final Regional Land Transport Plan will be submitted to NZTA at the end of June, with the agency making the ultimate decisions on funding allocations.
The Regional Transport Committee is a regional governance body made up of Mayoral or mayoral-nominee representatives from the Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Tauranga City Council, Rotorua Lakes Council, Whakatane District Council, Kawerau District Council, Opotiki District Council and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, as well as the NZ Transport Agency.