GOOD SIGN: Clarence Valley Council mayor Richie Williamson has great hope highway upgrade works could be announced.
GOOD SIGN: Clarence Valley Council mayor Richie Williamson has great hope highway upgrade works could be announced.

Road upgrade imminent

AT the same time as two horror crashes on the Pacific Highway killed one man and critically injured a woman, there are finally signs government is serious about fixing the problem.

The chairman of the Pacific Highway Task Force, Richie Williamson, said an advertisement in yesterday's Daily Examiner gave him great hope approval could be given next year for the upgrade and tenders called for the work.

The NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure is advertising the exhibition of plans for highway work between Woolgoolga and Ballina.

"To put it in context, this advertisement shows the RMS (Roads and Maritime Services) has drawn up its plans for the work and it is seeking approval from government body," Cr Williamson said.

"It's quite possible that by the first or second quarter of 2014 we could be in the position that they are calling for tenders.

"This time next year there could be an announcement of the tenders for the work."

He said once the approval was given, all tiers of government were locked into proceeding with the project, which has a 2020 deadline for completion.

Cr Williamson said the duplication of the highway through the Clarence Valley would bring between $5 billion and $7 billion into the Valley.

"This is a once-in-a-generation construction project for our region," he said.

While Cr Williamson said he was buoyed by the good news, he was devastated by the latest addition to the highway death toll.

"Let's not forget for a second that someone has lost a father, son or a brother," he said.

"Sadly it's something I seem to be saying far too often."



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