Joe?s 2006 start
By MEL MARTIN
NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi yesterday made a commitment for the first bulldozer to start digging the Bonville deviation next year, after the issue hit the national media.
"Construction will start next year," he said.
Mr Tripodi stopped short of committing to a start date, but said he was looking at interim measures.
"In light of this tragedy that's occurred, I've asked the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) to reassess everything we've done so far (at Bonville)," he said.
The Minister also committed to visit Coffs Harbour, although when he will do that remains a mystery.
"I need to wait for the RTA to come back to me with further advice. We will continue to monitor the situation, but I want to meet with Mayor Keith Rhoades as soon as possible."
Cr Rhoades felt positive that progress had been made.
"I can't say it's good news because 13 people have died since 2002, but if we can stop number 14 from happening, then we've achieved what we set out to do," he said.
"We've put it right up at the front and we're going to get results. I'm committed to that."
Cr Rhoades said he would push for the 80km/h zone at Bonville to be reduced to 60km/h and the 90km/h zone reduced to 80km/h zone, as well as a speed camera to be installed and a greater police presence.
"I want immediate measures put into place," he said.
"That will have an incredible impact, immediately. And I'm trying to get that commitment from the Minister's office.
"I know it's difficult to get greater police numbers, but this is going to need the resources.
"It's the quickest safety measure we can put in place, but it has to be backed up."
And he's not concerned about critics.
"Some people will be critical of the lower speed limit, but my answer to that is if it means an extra five minutes on people's trips, so be it. We're trying to save lives."
While a change to the speed limit at Bonville to 60km/h had previously been rejected by the Roads and Traffic Authority, Cr Rhoades is confident this time will be different.
"From what I've heard so far from the government, I believe we will do it," he said.
"No politics, just grown people trying to get the same outcome.
"I see an outcome that will put an end to the carnage. We're going to save lives."