'Premier let us down'
KNOWING first-hand the pain of having a child crash and die on the Pacific Hwy, Robyn Thomas has rejected Infrastructure NSW's claim that upgrading parts of the highway could cost too much.
In 2006, Ms Thomas's 24-year-old daughter, Yaicha, was driving to Sydney to see friends when she lost control of her vehicle and collided head-on with a campervan at Tabbimoble
This is one of the areas Infrastructure NSW says there would be "limited benefit" in upgrading, compared with clearing traffic congestion on the F3 near Newcastle.
"I think about her every day," Ms Thomas said.
"A song will come on the radio which reminds me of her and I'll get a bit teary.
"We're coping but it really is a life sentence."
In a recent report, Infra- structure NSW suggests the cost of upgrading regional stretches of the Pacific Hwy, including from Woolgoolga to Ballina would outweigh any economic benefits.
The report does not take into account deaths or seri- ous accidents.
"How much is pain and suffering worth compared to money? A life is much more important," Ms Thomas said.
"Look at how many lives are being lost every week on the Pacific Hwy and how many families are being devastated - it's ridiculous.
"The highway needs to be a dual carriageway."
Ms Thomas said she felt particularly let down by NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, who claimed he would prioritise the Pacific Hwy upgrade if made Premier.
"He did a drive up the highway himself and was nearly involved in a serious accident," Ms Thomas said. "After that, he said he wanted to fix the highway.
"I sent him an email and said, 'If you're serious about this, I'll get all my friends to vote for you'.
"He wrote back and told me he was, but now he's let us down."
In 2008, Ms Thomas presented a 1000-signature petition to NSW Parliament, calling for the highway upgrade to be fast-tracked.
The stretch where Yaicha died was improved, but it was not enough.