Delays putting lives at risk
By LEE McDOUGALL
TWO accidents in two days have again shone the spotlight on the Pacific Highway at Emerald Beach.
It has been 10 months since 17-year-old Nicholas Alexandrou was killed near the intersection of Fiddaman Road and the Pacific Highway, with those involved in this week's crashes being far more fortunate ? yet it is only a matter of time before another life is lost, say regular users of the road (see story below.) So, just what can be done to prevent further loss of life at this dangerous intersection?
According to the RTA's Coffs Harbour Highway Planning Strategy, Preferred Option Report (prepared by ConnellWagner), the Emerald Beach intersection has poor sight lines, inadequate provision for turning traffic and a high accident rate.
The report states that predicted population growth on the Northern Beaches will result in increased traffic volumes, and that an upgrading to dual carriageway will significantly reduce the number and severity of accidents.
While this is blatantly obvious to anyone using the Pacific Highway on a regular basis, dual carriageway from Sapphire to Woolgoolga is still some way off.
Yet there are short-term solutions. Developer Anthony Cougle, whose company has DA approval for the Emerald Seniors Living Community at Emerald Beach, is currently working with the RTA to look at ways in which the highway intersection can be upgraded to improve safety.
"The money is there and we are ready to go," Mr Cougle said.
"The RTA is doing a study at present and we hope to have a resolution within the next two months."
As part of the DA approval, Coffs Harbour City Council has requested a seagull intersection, similar to that which has just been completed at the Moonee Beach intersection.
So, if council approval has been given and the developer is keen for work to commence, what is the hold up?
The only snag, from the casual observer's perspective, is northbound access into the Emerald Beach Service Station. The current northbound access provision prohibits the 500-metre acceleration lane required for the seagull intersection.
If the RTA was to remove northbound access to the service station, as it has done to many other businesses along the Pacific Highway, then construction of the seagull intersection could proceed as the pavement is already wide enough.
Unfortunately, at the time of going to press late yesterday afternoon, the RTA was unable to comment on the issue.