It?ll drive you crazy
By JULIA ILES
MOTORISTS beware! For your own sanity avoid the Pacific Highway if you are travelling north tomorrow, or risk trailing the furious speed of a tractor in an entourage of other farming machinery and vehicles.
A snail's pace of 15km will be the observed speed limit for a group of highway upgrade protesters as they attempt to bring awareness to their concerns regarding Roads and Traffic Authority options for the highway.
But if travelling on the highway is mandatory they will pull over every 20 minutes to let motorists pass.
Between 120-150 vehicles are expected to take part in the drive, according to organiser Geoff Dorey.
It is scheduled to start at 8.30am at St Helena Rd near Byron Bay and continues to Ballina.
"The response has been really good and the slow drive is a stronger way of expressing to the RTA that we are not prepared to accept what they have said," Mr Dorey said.
"We are using this protest to take action and show our concern, even if it falls on deaf ears."
When the group reaches Ballina an estimated 15,000 petitions will be presented to RTA spokesperson Bob Higgins, by the State Member for Ballina Don Page MP.
On the Clarence, other concerned residents will take part in the Harwood Bridge pedestrian walk from 10.30am.
It's likely the bridge will be opened at 11.00am for the walk, which will end at the Harwood Hotel.
To push the highway upgrade issue at the parliamentary level, Pillar Valley resident Phil Hazell, along with Pauline Jackson of Taloumbi and David Pickering of James Creek went to Sydney on Tuesday for a meeting with unaligned members of the Legislative Council.
"Our purpose was to highlight to parliamentarians the other alternatives, such as upgrading the current highway to a dual-carriageway," Mr Hazell said.
He said he believed an upgrade of the Summerland Way would provide an effective western route.
Roads Minister Joe Tripodi said preliminary advice showed the Summerland Way/Page Plan could have environmental impacts on old growth forests and threatened species.
"The proposal also has the potential to impact on noise and social amenity in both urban and rural communities such as Grafton, Junction Hill, Koolkhan, Whiporee, Casino, Lismore, Woodlawn, Bexhill, Clunes and Possum Creek," Mr Tripodi said.
"Despite these constraints, I agreed to consider looking at the Summerland Way proposal. However this will not stop planning for the upgrade of the Pacific Highway."