Highway unrest grows in region
AS COMMUNITY organisations and residents in the Clarence Valley continue to voice concerns over the RTA's handling of the Pacific Highway upgrade, councils and community groups further north are just as disillusioned with the government agency.
From all the noise made by our northern neighbours, it is clear they are unhappy with the RTA's handling of the issue.
Individual councillors from Byron and Ballina Shire councils as well as residents throughout the North Coast have expressed their dismay at the lack of planning in relation to various highway options put forward.
Newrybar resident Tony Gilding said the RTA had failed to look far enough ahead.
"Within 10 years the traffic load on the highway will most likely be back to the same level it is now," he said.
"Councils will get reimbursed, at least in part, for maintenance of the highway, but what of the upgrading that will still desperately need to be done? What about St Helena and the notorious Tin- tenbar Hill ? who will pay for these to be fixed?"
Byron Shire Councillor Richard Staples questioned whether the RTA would ever complete the works it planned to.
"How much more of the already upgraded highway will be abandoned over the next few years?," he asked.
"How much of the work yet to be completed will be abandoned?
"The RTA has taken 15 years to get this far and at this rate they are going to take another 30 years to finish."
Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader said the lack of forward thinking by the RTA would mean the highway was no safer than at present.
"We are seeing on an almost daily basis irreparable human cost on the Pacific Highway," she said.
"It is without doubt we will witness catastrophic human cost if a motorway is constructed on the coastal tourist route."
Ian Oelrichs, a member of the Technical Advisory Group of the Far North Coast Strategy, said an upgrade of the Pacific Highway could not be done without a similar upgrade to secondary roads.
"Further improvements to the Pacific Highway will continue to increase the traffic that use these secondary roads, including semi-trailers and eventually B-doubles," he said.
"There are no funds available to carry out the significant upgrade works to make these roads safe now, let alone cope with the increase in traffic."