Ban B-doubles


THE weekend's fatality at Arrawarra has renewed calls to get B-doubles off the Pacific Highway.

Just days after the accident, again involving a truck, claimed the life of Queensland policeman Detective Sergeant Stewart Kerlin, Greens MLC Ian Cohen has called on the State Government to remove interstate freight off the Pacific Highway.

"On the Pacific Highway, heavy vehicles account for 15 per cent of traffic but are involved in 35 per cent of fatal crashes," Mr Cohen said.

"The Government should give serious consideration to upgrading the New England Highway, which was originally intended for the bulk of heavy vehicles and the carriage of freight. The New England Highway is Federally funded.

"Following the opening of the Pacific Highway to B-double use (in 2002), there was a drop in the number of B-doubles using the New England and an increase of freight on the Pacific Highway."

Mr Cohen said the Labor Party MLC for Ballina Amanda Fazio had also called for a 12-month moratorium on B-doubles using the Pacific Highway.

"We need to investigate measures that will help secure the safety of local residents," Ms Fazio said.

"Investigating a moratorium of B-double trucks on the North Coast section of the Pacific Highway is a

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step in the right direction."

However, while Mr Cohen and Ms Fazio have both called for a moratorium on B-doubles, the State Government has rejected a proposed inland motorway between Grafton and Byron Bay, deeming it 'too costly'.

The Daily Telegraph this week reported that the State Government had rejected North Coast community calls to build an inland 'western' highway to take trucks off the Pacific Highway.

Michael Alexandrou lost his 17-year-old brother Nicholas in a head-on collision at Emerald Beach in April, 2005.

"It is absolutely ridiculous. It (the inland route) might cost the Government more, but these roads need fixing," Mr Alexandrou said.

"They would find the money if they lost someone they loved."

Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, questioned the 'blind faith' the State Government exhibits in following the advice of the RTA.

"It (State Government) accepts whatever the RTA says and I am entirely suspect about RTA reports," Mr Fraser said.

"I think the way the RTA is treating people is appalling."

The NRMA's 2003 audit of the Pacific Highway found there were 10,182 crashes on the highway in the past 10 years, costing 453 lives.

It estimates that another 800 people will die on the Pacific Highway before its upgrade to dual carriageway is completed in 15 years time.

When in Coffs Harbour last week to officiate over the start of construction on the Bonville deviation, Federal Roads Minister Jim Lloyd said no price could be placed on the loss of a life on the Pacific Highway.

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