COFFS Harbour came tantalisingly close to getting a Coalition commitment to a highway bypass this week, only to lose it as a misunderstanding.
In the city on Wednesday during his drive down the coast at the wheel of a semi-trailer, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was pressed about whether his promise to fund the completion of the Pacific Highway upgrade included a bypass of Coffs Harbour.
"My understanding is the $7 billion or so that will be spent does include a bypass. That's my understanding," Mr Abbott told The Advocate's Brad Greenshields.
Alas, within half an hour, a call to our office from the office of local MP Luke Hartsuyker corrected the Opposition Leader's 'understanding' of the issue.
A bypass was not on any agenda because technically the highway running through Coffs Harbour was already a divided dual carriageway.
Everyone who lives here knows what living with highway traffic thundering through the heart of our city is doing to us.
That's why in last year's pre-election poll more than 90% of Advocate readers said a highway bypass was an urgent priority. The vast majority of respondents also expressed a desire for work to start within three to five years.
All of us know that as the highway improves to the north and south of Coffs Harbour traffic volumes will increase.
It is estimated Pacific Highway vehicle movements will triple by 2030, which means the traffic congestion in Coffs Harbour is set to dramatically worsen to the point of unbearable.
Whether Coffs Harbour remains the only north coast city cut in half by a highway when the upgrade is finished ultimately comes down to political will.
With Labor also refusing to acknowledge the need for a bypass of our city, maybe it's time to make sure all our politicians understand we are serious about what we want, deserve and need.
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