Highway action groups say Govt way off track

By LEE McDOUGALL

STEVE Moody now has a fair idea what it feels like to continually beat your head against a brick wall.

The same sense of frustration, futility and pain was experienced by Mr Moody of the Woolgoolga Action Group (WAR) and many other residents of the Northern Beaches last week following the release of a joint statement by the Federal Minister for Roads, Jim Lloyd and NSW Roads Minister, Eric Roozendaal.

The statement announced a $22 million allocation to progress the 24km Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrading of the Pacific Highway.

According to the release, the 'motorway' will upgrade the existing highway to four lanes with four interchanges, a service road so that local traffic does not have to travel on the highway, overpasses, underpasses, twin bridges over five creeks and a 9km Option E bypass of Woolgoolga.

"We welcome the funding allocation but this is overkill," Mr Moody said. "It's solving a problem with a sledgehammer. "This flies in the face of all the information that has been presented to the (NSW) Minister. "Instead he has chosen the RTA line."

Various Northern Beaches highway action groups and community members, including the Sikh community, have been critical of Option E, stating that it was the least desired option.

"Roozendaal states that the bypass component had regard for the people of Woolgoolga, who wanted heavy vehicles directed away from the town, but he failed to mention the fact that no-one wanted Option E," Woolgoolga resident Margaret Murphy said.

"And what about the Parliamentary Inquiry (into the RTA)? All the things that have come out in the Parliamentary Inquiry are being ignored.

"I would like to know if the Minister even knows the area. This is the fourth (NSW) Roads minister since 2004. Option E cuts through 43 per cent of the area's banana land at a cost to $21.5 million to the local economy."

Bypass Action Network spokesperson Wayne Evans said the State Government's dismissal of the Parliamentary Inquiry recommendations was a 'slap in the face to democracy'.

WAR and BAN will meet today at 7pm at the Woolgoolga Public School Hall to discuss what action, if any, can now be taken.

"It's going to be very hard to stop the radical behaviour," Mr Moody said.

n For further information, contact Mr Moody on 6654 7750.



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