BYPASS AT LAST
By LEE McDOUGALL
BONVILLE resident Geoff Gilchrist perhaps best summed up the feelings of the entire community yesterday.
When informed that the first sod had been officially turned on construction work of the Bonville deviation his reaction came straight from the heart.
"Hurray. Better late than never," Mr Gilchrist said.
"Things are finally moving in the right direction."
Mr Gilchrist is unfortunately very familiar with the dangerous nature of the section of Pacific Highway being bypassed.
In 2002, Mr Gilchrist was involved in a head-on collision on the Pacific Highway at Bonville. Had the bypass been completed as per the original 2000 deadline, the accident wouldn't have happened.
"It was a head-on, so yeah, if the bypass had been completed we wouldn't have collided," Mr Gilchrist said.
In turning the first official sod, Federal RoadS Minister Jim Lloyd said the enormous loss of lives on this section of Pacific Highway weighed heavily upon him.
Twelve people died on this section of road from 2003 to 2005, the most horrific being the quadruple fatality in June 2005, which prompted immediate action from both State and Federal governments.
"You can't put a value on a person's life," Mr Lloyd said.
"Since the $5 million safety measures were put in place, we have not experienced a single fatality.
"The Federal and State Governments have made a $1.3 billion funding commitment over the next three years (to upgrading the Pacific Highway). It's an enormous commitment but there is a lot of work to be done."
Federal member for Cowper, Mr Luke Hartsuyker, said the $1.3-billion funding commitment over the three years to 2009 was in addition to the $2.3 billion that had already been spent during the past decade on upgrading the Pacific Highway to dual carriageway from Sydney to the Queensland border.