GRANS COUNT EVERY CAR
By MEL MARTIN
THE Angry Grannies firmly believe that to get a job done properly you have to do it yourself, so they didn't think twice about sitting on the side of the Pacific Highway for 24 hours.
And through rain and sunshine, night and day, grandmothers ? and some grandfathers ? took turns sitting under the Big Banana, counting cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, caravans, and the occasional house passing through.
"The reason we're doing this 24-hour traffic count, is that Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) figures have been proven to be inaccurate time after time, here and in Sydney," Margaret Murphy said.
"We're also able to experience first-hand the noise pollution suffered daily by residents, just imagine if you lived in that house," she said, pointing at a house on the other side of the highway.
Between 5pm Monday and 5pm yesterday, the Angry Grannies ? a team of grandparents determined to get a far western bypass ? counted close to 30,000 vehicles, including 26,825 cars and cars with caravans or trailers, and 2734 trucks ranging from light trucks to B-doubles and tankers.
These figures will be added to their 500-page submission for the Settlement Strategy, put together to highlight the risk of the RTA's plans for a motorway.
They are concerned about the effects of the noise and air pollution on children in the area ? the noise pollution leading to sleep disturbances, which result in poor learning, and the air pollution leading to serious health problems, including cancer and asthma.
"More than 4000 children going to schools only metres from the highway will be directly affected," Margaret said. "Along the 23 kilometres of coast from Sapphire to Corindi Beach, the existing highway is an average of only 800 metres from the beach.
"The noise footprint from the highway extends more than one kilometre. Residents cannot escape the noise pollution, which will only get worse as the number of heavy vehicles increases. Road freight will double in the next few years."
And having spent 20 of the 24 hours on the side of the Highway, Arlene Hope can't believe people are able to live along its edges.
"The noise is just shocking. I do not know how these people living and sleeping in these houses along the highway cope, how their children can go to school and concentrate," she said.