Yes, people, there is a Santa
By JENI FAULKNER
IT'S the Christmas present we've all be waiting for ? commitment upgrades for the Pacific Highway.
Yesterday Federal Minister for Roads Jim Lloyd and State Minister for Roads Joe Tripodi signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding.
This means both ministers will immediately assign technical and financial experts into exploring further options for the Pacific Highway, including the Bonville deviation and the stretch of road from Sapphire to Woolgoolga.
The news has been welcomed by the NOROC Taskforce, the Coffs Harbour City Council, local politicians and also by NRMA Motoring Services.
Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said, in his view, the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade was an absolute priority.
"The NSW Government originally had the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade scheduled well outside the 2006-9 time frame," Mr Hartsuyker said.
"Now there is an agreement to include both the Bonville deviation and the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade in the 2006 to 2009 schedule of works."
The ministers agreed that one of the options to be explored under the plan would be a toll charge.
"We may be able to get the job done a lot more quickly if the private sector is involved in the financing, which would then require a toll on new or upgraded sections," Mr Lloyd said.
Mr Tripodi said the agreement means governments would explore tolling to fund an accelerated works program.
Tenders closed yesterday for the design, construction and 10-year maintenance of the Bonville upgrade and, when completed, there will be a 17.5km stretch of dual carriageway from Coffs Harbour to Urunga. The deviation will include:
A four-lane divided road over 9.6km.
Two 3.5m traffic lanes in each direction, with a 13m median strip separating opposing traffic lanes, an inside .5m shoulder and an outside 2.5m breakdown lane.
An interchange at Mailmans Track, with provision for a further interchange at Archville Station Road.
Overpasses at Bonville Station Road and East Bonville Road.
Twin bridges over Pine, Reedy and Bonville creeks.
Extensive works to protect local environment and a fauna fence.
Noise protection walls.
A heavy vehicle inspection bay.