By JENI FAULKNER
FINALLY, work will begin.
Interim safety works an-nounced for the Pacific Highway at Bonville last November are set to begin this month.
The Australian Government will provide $5 million to fully fund the safety upgrade, pending the start of the Bonville deviation later in the year.
Federal Minister for Roads, Jim Lloyd, said the works will include a median barrier at Pine Creek, widening shoulders and 'clear zones' along the edges of the road, and lengthening and improving the transitions or merges from four lanes to two at either end.
The works should be completed by June, 2006, and once the Bonville deviation is complete the works will still benefit local traffic using the existing road.
"This section of the Pacific Highway has seen too many crashes and too many fatalities," Mr Lloyd said.
"The works to be undertaken will greatly improve safety by separating the opposing traffic flows through the bends at Pine Creek using a centre median and, through improvements to the road shoulders and verges, to reduce the likelihood that errant vehicles will collide with roadside obstructions."
The member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, has welcomed the announcement.
"I appreciate the personal interest the Federal Minister has taken in this matter, and that works are about to start. I have no doubt it will improve the safety of the area," Mr Fraser said.
"I am still very disappointed that the State Minister for Roads, Mr Joe Tripodi, has not seen fit to fast-track the tender process for the Bonville deviation."
Mr Fraser said this was still not good enough.
"Mr Tripodi should stop dragging the chain and get on with the announcement of tenderers and the construction of the deviation," he said.