Lower River stands firm on highway
By EMMA CORNFORD
THE GULMARRAD community has vowed to band together to fight a proposed motorway which would run through the area.
Around 220 members of the Taloumbi, Gulmarrad, Gardiners Road and James Creek areas attended the Community Liaison Group (CLG) meeting on Thursday night, packing out a classroom at Gulmarrad Public School, with some people forced to stand under the eaves to shelter from the rain.
According to chairman of the meeting and CLG member Bruce Walsh, the opposition to the RTA's proposal had been 'huge'.
"The opposition was really strong and the people there were adamant that a motorway would not run through the middle of their community," Mr Walsh said.
"The one really strong feeling was the community would work together on this issue and present a united viewpoint which was very heartening for the CLG members because these are the kinds of issues that can really split communities."
Mr Walsh said one of the main concerns raised by residents was the change a motorway would cause to the nature of the area.
"People move here so they can have a bit more space and people have moved there because it's quiet and there's wallabies grazing ... and obviously a motorway would turn that into the complete opposite and that's a real concern."
Although the RTA has not yet put any options on paper, Mr Walsh said the body had indicated that running the motorway through the Gulmarrad, James Creek area was a definite possibility.
Environmental concerns were also a cause of concern to residents, Gulmarrad resident Louise Sheehan saying there are a number of vulnerable species which live in the area, including mammals, birds, lizards, snakes and frogs.
"The environmental constraints are really something the RTA has to look at so we're just forming a comprehensive list at the moment and we think it will be an important consideration in the long run," Mrs Sheehan said.
Mr Walsh said the community believed the best option for the new motorway would be to follow the highway's current route to Shark Creek then veer east.
"There would be no penalties in terms of distance and because it's following the original route," he said.