Fancy a 15kmh highway??Go-slow? planned
By JULIA ILES and JENI FAULKNER
IT'S my way or the highway, just about summarises the divide between the people in the community and the Road Traffic Authority (RTA).
Instead of staging a protest, Clarence Valley community action groups collectively known as the United Group, will take part in a slow drive.
On December 2, hundreds of concerned residents are expected to drive their cars and farm machinery from St Helena to Ballina.
"It is a demonstration of our disgust at the process of the proposed RTA solutions," organiser Tony Gilding said.
"The RTA has the potential to split the community by forcing us to decide on one narrow option."
It seems NSW Premier Morris Iemma's nor anyone from his office will attend tomorrow's Northern Rivers Pacific Highway upgrade forum.
A spokesperson from his office Kimberley Ramplin, said the invitation was received too late for the Premier to attend but 'you may like to check with Mr Tripodi's office,' she said.
It is unlikely anyone from Roads Minister Mr Tripodi's office will attend, but they will send an RTA representative, spokesperson Peter Zangari said.
On Monday representatives from the RTA copped a heavy beating during the State Parlia- ment inquiry into the Pacific Highway at Coffs Harbour.
Residents argued about a lack of community consultation, and politicians joined forces to warn that safety measures must be implemented before more lives were lost.
Bruce Scanlon, from the Woolgoolga Area Residents (WAR) group, accused the RTA of blatantly abusing community needs.
"The RTA presented us with drawings and gave us 20 minutes to make a decision and there was no way of sharing that with the community," Mr Scanlon said.
The chair of the standing committee, Jenny Gardiner MLC, said it appeared the community felt the bypass options had been a classic case of a 'snow job'.
But debate over the highway spread beyond bypass option routes and upgrades, heating up with topics of funding and Government promises.
Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker was questioned by ALP committee member Jan Burnswoods about his apparent lack of lobbying for the Coffs Harbour community.
He was asked about Federal funding towards the Pacific Highway in the past 10 years and his response was regularly interrupted.
"I'd call the Pacific Highway a disgrace because of a lifetime of neglect by the State Government," Mr Hartsuyker said.
The meeting at the Coffs ExServices Club yesterday was the first of two inquiries into the Pacific Highway.