A highway twist


THERE has been a strange twist in the heated debate over a Pacific Highway upgrade for the Clarence Valley.

After telling the three concerned community liaison groups in May that the 'books were closed' on the options issue, the RTA has called an unexpected meeting in Grafton on June 23. Tucabia Community Liaison Group spokesperson David Pinnells said RTA officers rang the members of all three liaison groups ? Tucabia, Maclean and Grafton ? to inform them of the meeting.

"No agenda was given over the phone, but we were told they would arrive in the post," he said.

"Until then we are in the dark about what the meeting's all about."

The development follows the news that community pressure has forced a Parliamentary inquiry into the RTA's handling of the Pacific Highway upgrade in the Northern Rivers area. The inquiry will focus on the planned upgrades between Tintenbar and Ewingsdale and between Ballina and Woodburn.

When asked yesterday if the inquiry should include the Clarence Valley, Nationals Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell said the time was not right.

Mr Cansdell said the people further north had been shown the proposed routes and they acted accordingly.

"The Clarence Valley options haven't been made public yet, so I think it's a bit premature to call for a parliamentary inquiry at this stage," he said.

"It wouldn't be in the best interests of the community."

David Pinnells, of the Tucabia CLG, said he agreed with Mr Cansdell's comments, but the call by the RTA and its consultants for a new meeting had thrown a different light on the matter.

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