Lives to be saved from highway plans
By ADRIAN MILLER
THE number of fatalities on the Pacific Highway would be halved if the Orange option was chosen for the upgrade from Iluka to Wells Crossing, a report to the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) suggests.
The report, prepared by RTA consultant SKM and given to delegates at last week's Value Management Workshop (VMW) in Yamba, shows that the Orange option for the highway upgrade would reduce fatalities by as much as 51 per cent.
It also claims crashes would be reduced by 40 per cent.
In comparison, the purple op- tion would reduce fatalities by 30 per cent and crashes by 22 per cent.
The green and red options, the most easterly routes, could both reduce fatalities and crashes by 19 and 25 per cent respectively.
The report, entitled VMW Background Paper: Social and Economic, also suggests up to 90 per cent of the existing highway traffic would use a Pacific Highway upgraded along the Orange route.
It says the three other options would only attract 30 per cent of the current traffic levels.
However, according to the report, the Orange option is by far the most expensive, with an estimated cost of up to $1200 million, compared with the cheaper red and green options, which are budgeted at no more than $850 million.
But the Orange option could potentially generate 14,000 jobs, with purple, green and red generating 12,000 and 10,000 respectively, the report says.
Held last week, the VMW was a meeting of various community stakeholders and government and RTA representatives to consider a preferred route for the Pacific Highway upgrade.
Delegate Sarah Dunlop said after a gruelling three days, the delegation was unable to select a favoured route.
"At the moment the RTA has been given various routes to think about but there is no one route that is the automatic preferred route," she said.
"We weighed up a number of different functional criteria relating to safety and time saved, but also the engineering risks and the flood risks.
"(And) they concluded when all those things are compared on balance, they couldn't pick between the different routes."
Clarence Valley councillor Doug Mackenzie said no option came out on top because there was a definite difference between what was preferable environmentally to what was the best functionally, socially and economically.