A whole lot of shaking going on
By SALLY GORDON
EVERY time a B-double thunders past Stuart and Marg McPhee's roadside home at Ulmarra, their 54-year-old cottage noticeably trembles on its brick foundations.
The couple claim that constant ground vibration caused from passing trucks on the Pacific Highway is slowly destroying their house.
Marg and Stuart are resigned to the fact that one day they could return home from work in Grafton to find the rear of their home has collapsed.
Mrs McPhee said their weatherboard cottage, located only 10m from the highway on Wyatts Straight, has been gradually cracking and falling apart since B-doubles were permitted to use the Pacific Highway.
The couple is looking at a repair bill of more than $30,000 to address the home's structural problems.
"Everything was, and had been, structurally sound since the 1950s until four years or so ago when B-doubles were permitted to use the highway," Mrs McPhee said.
"Since then, our chimney has shown alarming damage, the house vibrates with each B-double's passing, and we can't keep tiles on the floor or sides of our shower or bathroom area."
"You can actually put your fingers through the cracks in the chimney, and it is now standing away from the body of the house."
The McPhees have approached the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) in the hope that they would be given some indication as to what option will be chosen to upgrade the Pacific Highway.
The couple say their house desperately needs fixing.
But Mrs McPhee said without knowing whether the existing highway would be upgraded or reconstructed further east, they were unable to deal with their deteriorating house.
"If the highway remains and they extend it by another couple of lanes, we think we're going to have to move the house, but if they select a route closer to the coast, then we can start fixing our structural problems now," she said.
The McPhees are advocating the RTA's eastern route options, claiming they were in support of any plan that would have the least impact on homeowners and prime farming land.
The Daily Examiner yesterday contacted the RTA requesting its position on providing financial assistance to people whose homes are damaged by truck movements on the highway. The Examiner also requested a date as to when a decision about the future of the highway would be made public.
The RTA failed to respond before The Examiner went to print late last night.