Time for slow Joe to get going

By DAVID MOASE

THE DEATHS of 78 people on Australian roads over the Christmas and new year period should spur the NSW Roads Minister to start construction of the Bonville deviation more quickly, member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said yesterday.

Mr Hartsuyker stopped short of repeating his call for Mr Tripodi to be sacked over his handling of the Bonville project but emphasised the need for construction to start as soon as possible.

The Roads and Traffic Authority is assessing two tenders to build the 9.6km deviation around the notorious stretch of Pacific Highway where 13 people have lost their lives in the past three years.

It has said the decision will be made about the middle of this year.

"We've only recently seen horrendous deaths on our roads over the Christmas break, we want to make our roads as safe as possible as quickly as possible," Mr Hartsuyker said at a joint press conference with Federal Roads Minister Jim Lloyd.

"We're calling on Mr Tripodi to assess the tenders just as quickly as possible, to let contracts just as quickly as possible so that more lives can be saved.

"Sitting on one's hands for six months rather than assessing tenders just as quickly as possible is not the way to save lives and we want to see the process speeded up.

"We've offered Mr Tripodi $30 million to accelerate the work on the Bonville deviation, so he can't offer lack of funds as an excuse for not starting this project earlier.

"It's time for slow Joe to get going."

Mr Hartsuyker said tenderers were given 13 weeks to put together their proposals but assessment process was going to take twice as long.

"Any reasonable person can see if a tender can be submitted in 13 weeks it doesn't take six months to assess them," he said.

Mr Lloyd called on Mr Tripodi to push his department for a faster outcome.

"I know that there has to be due process, I know that it does take time but it seems to me there is no sense of urgency from the NSW Government to get on with this job," he said.

"If the minister is riding his own department, if he is riding the RTA, saying 'look this is important to the community, lets get on with it' then we can be sure that there are no undue delays."

A statement issued by Mr Tripodi's office yesterday said the 'Bonville deviation is progressing well' and the contract would incorporate the design and construction of the roadway and its maintenance for 10 years.

"The proposed design must be assessed against a range of criteria, including a detailed engineering assessment and how geological, environmental and community issues will be addressed," it stated.

"This is a complex and comprehensive process.

"Following this a contract must be drawn up to accurately reflect the details of the tender."



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