Campaigners angry over $8b funding
PACIFIC Highway campaigners have reacted angrily to news this week that the proposed North West Rail Link in Sydney would shave no more than a minute off the travel times of motorists - all for $8b.
Considering the $2b political stand-off between State and Federal Governments over the Pacific Hwy upgrade, well-known local advocates for a speedy duplication were unanimously disgusted by the revelation.
A vocal member of Doctors for a Safer Pacific Highway, Dr Ray Jones said if even a portion of the $8b was spent on the highway between Kempsey and Ballina - some 30 lives would be saved per year.
He said the Pine Creek upgrade near Raleigh had saved between 40 and 50 people since it was completed a few years ago.
"It must have claimed about 10 people a year before that," he said.
Figures from the draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan said 405 people were killed in 365 fatal road crashes in 2010 - with 68% of those crashes on country roads.
"We don't seem to matter to the politicians in Sydney," Dr Jones said.
He said protests in Urunga last year following the tragic death of a boy run over in his home, made the Government prioritise the area for duplication.
He said similar action in Grafton which attracted national media coverage could also force an increased priority for the area.
Krysal Gray of Ulmarra had a semi-trailer overturn into her backyard in June 2010. "It's ridiculous," she said. "How many more lives have to lost before they fund the dual carriageway."
Retired ambulance officer Wade Walker, who quit his job due to post traumatic stress disorder brought on by road trauma, said the O'Farrell Government's lack of commitment to the Pacific Hwy was quite different to it's pre-election posturing.
"It's disgraceful that we are driving over the same bit of road that all those people died on in Cowper all those years ago," he said.
"O'Farrell flew into Ballina for that political stunt before the election and did the trip down the highway condemning Labor for their inaction and now he won't meet his promises."
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis was asked for his thoughts on the issue and responded with this via email: "The NSW Government has committed almost a billion dollars towards duplicating the Pacific Highway this year. There are some 1800 staff currently working on the Pacific Highway upgrade projects. In particular the planning, acquisitions and so forth for our area are being worked on as a priority."