$5m FOR PINE CREEK
By JENI FAULKNER
PAT yourself on the back!
Your support of the Coffs Coast Advocate's Highway to Hell campaign, which kicked off in March, looks like it has finally paid some dividends.
When we launched our campaign, there were three things we were calling for: a definite commitment to the Bonville deviation, a speed reduction at Bonville, and road barriers at Pine Creek.
Yesterday, after years of promises and buck passing, the Federal and State roads ministers finally met in Parliament House.
The result of the meeting: $5 million in Federal funds to be provided to install a median barrier at Pine Creek, and shoulder widths to be increased on some parts of the highway.
There will also be changes made to lane contours in current sections of the highway at Bonville that merge from four lanes to two.
This follows announcements in the past three months for a commitment to the Bonville deviation by NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi, plus a reduction in speed limits in September.
Federal Roads Minister Jim Lloyd said he agreed to provide the $5 million on the condition that works would be finished before the end of June, 2006.
"I look forward to the RTA implementing these works as soon as possible so that lives can be saved on this section of the highway," Mr Lloyd said.
It has been just seven months since the Highway to Hell campaign was launched demanding changes and upgrades to the Pacific Highway.
Since then five people have tragically died at Bonville but, in September, it appeared the Government finally heard your cry for help.
The NSW Roads Minister, Mr Joe Tripodi, visited Bonville and announced an immediate speed reduction for Pine Creek through to Bonville. He also said speed cameras would be operational by Christmas.
During his visit, Coffs Coast Advocate chief of staff Graeme Singleton passed on more than 6000 signed postcards from readers demanding an upgrade and start date for the Bonville deviation.
By October tenders for the upgrade were announced and the NRMA joined the fight by launching their 'Fix Our Bloody Roads' website.
Not surprisingly the news yesterday has been enthusiastically welcomed by Coffs Harbour's mayor, and our State and Federal members.
Mr Lloyd also announced that the Federal Government will increase its commitment to the Pacific Highway by $160 million a year over the next three years.