Chris Gulaptis and Kevin Hogan before the opening of the new Pacific Highway from Glenugie to Tyndale.
Chris Gulaptis and Kevin Hogan before the opening of the new Pacific Highway from Glenugie to Tyndale.

OUR SAY: Lifetime of waiting for Pacific Highway bypass

DESPITE growing up 367km from the nearest point of the Pacific Highway, the urgent need to upgrade Australia's busiest interstate artery has been part of my entire living memory.

From watching countless horrific tragedies on the news, to summer holidays bookended by hour-long delays at the Buladelah bottleneck and often longer waits for crash sites to be mopped up, it was obvious the Pacific Highway needed 'fixing'.

I wonder how many other kids sitting in those queues were subjected to the tirades of abuse hurled from impatient fathers at whoever was responsible for those damned roads from the confines of a hot car on those 40 degree days without air-conditioning.

In 1989, two months apart, the two most deadly road tragedies in our nation's history shattered communities on the NSW North Coast, and catalysed the demand for dual carriageway for the entirety of the Pacific Highway.

More than 30 years later, the waiting is finally over.

• Pacific Hwy opening brings Clarence 'closer to the world'

Kevin Hogan and Chris Gulaptis walk on the newly completed Pacific Highway between Glenugie and Tyndale.
Kevin Hogan and Chris Gulaptis walk on the newly completed Pacific Highway between Glenugie and Tyndale.

While sections of the highway north of the Harwood Bridge are yet to be completed, a symbolic milestone is achieved today, when the site of the Cowper bus crash which killed 21 people is officially no longer part of the route from Sydney to Brisbane.

The Tyndale to Glenugie section of the Motorway opens almost exactly four years after the Frederickton to Eungai section opened (May 16, 2016), which bypassed the Clybucca crash site, where 35 people died just two months after the Cowper disaster.

From today, government officials can wash their blood-soaked hands of 30 years of avoidable fatalities on our roads, and look forward to a safer future.

I commend those who fought for progress on the upgrade at various times over the past three decades, contending with the many others who were preoccupied in political squabble or simply sitting on their hands.

It could've happened sooner, but at least we can finally say it's happened.

 

<< LISTEN TO THE DAILY EXAMINER'S SIX-PART PODCAST SERIES COWPER >>

Cowper Podcast
Cowper Podcast

 

• Cowper a 'catalyst' for highway upgrade 30 years on

BEHIND THE PODCAST: How the series was created

• The driving force for a safer Pacific Highway

• Radio journalist recalls ruthless national media



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