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Upgrade $7.7b short

An estimated $7.7 billion is still required for the upgrade of the Pacific Hwy to dual carriageway.
An estimated $7.7 billion is still required for the upgrade of the Pacific Hwy to dual carriageway.

WITH an estimated $7.7 billion required for the upgrade of the Pacific Hwy to dual carriageway after the current funding round expires in 2014, the Pacific Hwy Task Force is calling for solid arrangements to be made to secure funding.

Task force chairman and Clarence Valley Council Mayor Richie Williamson said while the current funding was very welcome, the government now needed to look further ahead to ensure the upgrade was completed by 2016, a completion date previously promised by the State Government.

"Both the State and Federal Governments have committed $4.84 billion dollars to works up to 2014. This investment needs to be acknowledged as a very sound start but a clear funding agreement is needed to get the job done," Cr Williamson said.

Funding allocations after 2014 would predominately be spent on sections of the highway between Woolgoolga and Ballina, upgrading the notoriously dangerous stretch of road to dual-carriage.

Although he said negotiations were proceeding, Mr Williamson said he couldn't understand why agreements for post-2014 funding hadn't been made, especially given the importance of getting the highway upgraded.

"The parties seem to be a long way apart, with the State Government proposing that they contribute 20% of the funding while the Commonwealth is insisting on a 50/50 split," he said.

"It's fair to say people want this matter resolved and a funded timeline committed to."

The Pacific Hwy Task Force was formed to represent the many communities affected by the Pacific Hwy and has been lobbying both State and Federal Governments to secure funding and ensure the upgrade continues on track to the completion date of 2016.

Topics:  pacific hwy, richie williamson


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