As the map above shows, the Pacific Hwy is yet to be upgraded in the Clarence Valley.
As the map above shows, the Pacific Hwy is yet to be upgraded in the Clarence Valley.

Highway battlefield

WITH the election drawing closer, the Pacific Highway Taskforce will be thrusting the upgrade to the top of the pollies' agenda with a hard-hitting campaign coming.

Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson is the head of Pacific Highway Taskforce, an organisation of councils set up to lobby for highway funding.

As the Mayor sees it, the taskforce is not a politically affiliated organisation.

"We don't care how it is funded," Cr Williamson said. "Our position is, and has always been, just get it done."

Like many Valley residents, the road has taken a personal toll on the Mayor.

"I've lost people I've known in the wider community and a person I went to school with," he said.

While it is a road tarred with broken promises, the Pacific Highway Taskforce is trying to force the issue this federal election.

"We're not political and we're not suggesting either policy is better; we just want to see it gets done."

The Coalition has pledged it will finish the Pacific Hwy before the end of the decade, and Page hopeful Kevin Hogan has termed it the issue of the election.

Mr Hogan and State Minister for Roads Duncan Gay met by the fated road yesterday and announced they had struck a deal to pay for its duplication.

Mr Hogan said the road would be paid for with funds from Sydney's Epping to Parramatta rail line.

But incumbent Page MP Janelle Saffin said the Coalition had manufactured the promise and in so doing played politics with lives of local drivers.

"It makes me angry because it's about people and safety," Ms Saffin said.

"I'll let people make their own conclusions, but I think the Nationals are being unconscionable on this."

Ms Saffin also said Minister Gay had previously promised to fund the Pacific Hwy and finish the job by 2016, and she questioned how real the Coalition's promise on the issue was.

"The federal Nationals keep talking about pulling money from some Sydney project that isn't available until 2019," Ms Saffin said.



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