Sign of the times
By JENI FAULKNER
FIX our bloody highway and hurry up!
Coffs Coast residents have been screaming for government funding to upgrade of the Pacific Highway and, finally, our cries for help appear to have been heard.
Yesterday NSW Roads Minister, Joe Tripodi, announced a short list of tenders for the Bonville deviation and, just to keep the ball rolling, the NRMA launched a community campaign called Fix Our Bloody Highway.
The three companies Abigroup Contractors Pty Limited, Leighton Contractors Pty Limited and Thiess Pty Limited will submit detailed tenders for Bonville, and construction should start in the second half of 2006.
When finished, this project will complete 17.5 kilometres of uninterrupted dual carriageway from Coffs Harbour to Urunga.
The news has been welcomed by the community, the Coffs Harbour City Council and by lobby groups but, as if we didn't know it already, there is still so much work to be done.
In the meantime, the NRMA Motoring and Services has jumped on the bandwagon launching its $1 million community campaign Fix Our Bloody Highway.
Billboards showing death, injury and crash statistics have been erected at 12 locations, our closest are located outside Taree and just north of Woolgoolga.
Bruce Scanlon from Woolgoolga Area Residents (WAR) encourages everyone to get behind the campaign, saying the billboards embarrass politicians into action.
"These billboards are an indication of the neglect governments have given our local road and although it is terrible a motor organisation had to use $1 million to embarrass politicians it is a good start," Mr Scanlon said.
"It advertises the problems that we, as residents, face every day and it reminds those who don't travel it that it's a dangerous road."
Mr Scanlon said the lowering of speed limits, like the new safety interim measures at Bonville weren't enough.
"The Pacific Highway has heavy transport and when human error comes into play, and it always does, a vehicle crosses the road and something needs to be there to stop a head-on," he said.
"We (the community) need to keep pushing for a road that works because white double lines on a highway will never stop people crossing the road."
To have a say about the Pacific Highway visit the NRMA Motoring and Services website www.fixourbloodyroads.com and fill out an e-card. From 2000 to 2002 crashes on the Pacific Highway cost $190 million and from 1994 to 2003 it claimed more than 450 lives.