O’Farrell to complete Pacific Hwy
TOUCHING on the pain of countless families who have lost love ones on the Pacific Highway, NSW Opposition leader Barry O’Farrell gave a commitment to fast-track the dual carriageway project should he be elected as NSW Premier.
After accepting an invitation from district mayors, Mr O’Farrell toured the highway between Ballina and Coffs Harbour over two days, seeing the horrors of the road that has claimed more than 80 deaths since 2003.
Reflecting on Thursday’s latest fatality of a 69-year old Central Coast man, who was killed after his car collided with a truck, the potential premier said the head-on accident simply wouldn’t have occurred if it was a divided highway.
“It brings home to me not a lot has changed; it’s time for specific deadlines and an end to the stupidity, no more watered down commitments,” Mr O’Farrell said.
He vowed a Coalition Government would look to outfund State Treasury’s $10 million commitment and complete the works inside the projected completion date of 2016.
“My first priority is to assess the funding model ... but the business case model for the Pacific Highway speaks for itself,” he said.
“I drove the highway in daylight, at dusk and at dark. I’ve seen just how stressful driving it can be; last night was terrifying.”
Mayor Richie Williamson said the tour had achieved the desired affect.
“We pointed out a number of trouble spots and a number of black spots along the highway,” he said.
“He (Mr O’Farrell) was certainly very surprised at the state of the Pacific Highway in a number of locations throughout the local government areas of Ballina, Richmond and also Clarence.”
“I’m sure that some of the memories and stories that have been portrayed to him by the mayors and the members on the bus will certainly stick in his mind for a very long time to come.”
Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell said the invitation for Premier Kristina Keneally to tour the highway still stood.
“It is important that she takes up the offer of the mayors to drive the highway rather than just see lines on a map and names on paper,” he said. “It will have a far greater impact driving it first hand to see the lives that have been lost.”