Highway fatals? $2.9 billion cost

By JENI FAULKNER

FATAL accidents at Pine Creek and Bonville have cost an estimated $19.5 million during the past three years.

That goes without even mentioning the tragic loss of life and aftermath faced by family, friends and community ? we all know too well the horrific effects of yet another fatal on the highway.

When everything is added in, from the moment an ambulance is dispatched to beyond the day of the funeral, a death on the Pacific Highway costs about $1.5 million.

In a bid to weigh up these phenomenal costs, The Coffs Coast Advocate has looked at the cost of installing wire safety barriers at Pine Creek and Bonville as an interim measure leading up to the completion of the Bonville deviation.

Bonville in the last two months has cost up to $7.5 million in road fatalities. But try explaining that to the RTA and the members in power.

Wire safety barriers were first considered in April this year when former NSW Roads Minister Michael Costa asked the RTA to look at the feasibility of the barriers at Pine Creek and areas between Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga.

An RTA spokesperson said yesterday that the Minister for Roads, Joe Tripodi, had instructed the RTA to review the possibility of interim safety measures at Bonville and this review was currently under way.

"In May 2004, the installation of a wire rope safety barrier on the Pacific Highway at St Helena Hill began at a cost of $500,000," the spokesperson said.

"The cost of installing wire rope depends on whether road works are required, property access, land clearing issues and the impact on the local environment."

Accidents on Australian roads in general cost $15 billion each year.

Since April 2002, 13 people have lost their lives between Pine Creek and Bonville. Work towards the Bonville deviation has been stalled for five years and it could take a further five before it is completed.

This means more lives could be lost if interim options are not installed to prevent head-on accidents and more deaths on our roads.



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