Wire fence ?fix
By DAVID MOASE
WIRE safety fencing may be installed at the Pine Creek black spot but there is still no commitment from the State Government to build a Pacific Highway bypass at Bonville.
That is the good news and the bad news from yesterday's meeting in Sydney between NSW Roads Minister Michael Costa and a delegation from the Coffs Coast.
Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser was joined at the meeting by Coffs Harbour council's mayor, Cr Keith Rhoades, and general manager Mark Ferguson, and Bellingen's mayor, Cr Mark Troy, and council engineer, Ken Wilson.
Mr Fraser described the 45-minute meeting as 'a very good hearing' and said he was happy that Mr Costa had instructed Roads and Traffic Authority staff to investigate installing extra safety measures at Pine Creek.
"Mr Costa asked the RTA to cost and look at the feasibility of installing steel posts and wire fencing down the middle of the highway at Pine Creek, as well as in other parts of the highway between Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga," he said.
"It wouldn't be a dual carriageway but because the carriageway would be divided it would help avoid tragic accidents like the one at Moonee a couple of weeks ago.
"The RTA people said they needed a minimum width of the road to install the wire fencing but if they need to make it wider they should just do it no matter the cost.
"If it saves one life it will have paid for itself."
The speed limit at Pine Creek will also be investigated.
Currently a 90km/h zone, the limit could be cut to 80km/h in line with Mr Costa's stated preference for getting rid of 90km/h and 70km/h zones throughout the state.
Any commitment to a Bonville bypass now appears to be tied up with the idea of a North Coast motorway, which has been suggested by both Mr Costa and his federal counterpart John Anderson.
According to Cr Rhoades, the minister said a motorway would not be an upgrade of the current Pacific Highway.
"We could be talking about a whole new ballgame and looking at a far western bypass again," the mayor said.
Mr Costa told the meeting that any planning for a motorway would not put other highway work on hold, but Mr Fraser said if the plan went ahead, the money for the Bonville bypass may be diverted to fund the motorway.
The meeting also discussed the need to complete Hogbin Drive and Mr Costa said he would consider the possibility of a tripartite funding arrangement between Coffs Harbour council and the State and Federal governments.
Cr Rhoades said the minister indicated a desire to come to Coffs Harbour to see for himself some of the contentious areas, although no date for a visit has been fixed.