RTA options off the mark

LEADING Northern Rivers urban planner Ian Oelrichs has backed 'The Page Plan' for an inland highway as a safer, faster and cheaper alternative to upgrading the Pacific Highway.

Mr Oelrichs, a former chair and now director of the Northern Rivers Regional Development Board, also has called for an urgent transport summit with NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi.

Mr Oelrichs has criticised current RTA options for upgrading the Pacific as a 'piecemeal, join-the-dots approach', which would continue to produce many poor results.

His call to arms is: ''We must not put an upgraded highway through one of Australia's most significant economic and environmental regions. The Amalfi Coast in Italy and the Big Sur coast in California have been protected. We need to protect ours.''

The Byron Shire-based planner is pushing two new options, the culmination of work done by CARS, a consortium of local communities concerned about transport planning in the region.

The options are:

nLonger term: The Summerland Way would be upgraded as the main through traffic route between Grafton and Brisbane. It would provide the most direct route for all interstate and non-local freight and other through traffic.

nShorter term: A Pacific Highway upgrade that takes the highway west at Tyagarah in a semi-circle that travels to the west of Lismore and back to the highway south of Woodburn. A second part of this proposal would link Summerland Way with the Pacific Highway, linking the Casino freight hub to the Pacific Highway.

Mr Oelrichs is encouraging all community members in the Clarence and Richmond valleys to view a more detailed outline of these options.

To receive this three-page summary, including map, phone 66875674 or email carolinedesmond@optusnet.com.au He said some of the strategic benefits of an upgraded Summerland Way included:

Uses an existing direct route into the south-western area of South East Queensland.

In the South East Queensland plan, the western and south-western area of South East Queensland is planned as a major growth area, including two freight hubs. It would be smart to take the interstate traffic into this area so adequate infrastructure can be planned to cater for the growth and traffic.

All three freight hubs in South East Queensland and North Eastern NSW would be efficiently linked.

Encourages the western area of the Northern Rivers to become a major economic and population growth area, relieving the coast of greater pressure.

Better services regional growth area.

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