Virtual bypass not a 'done deal'

IT has been dubbed Coffs Harbour’s ‘virtual bypass’.

The Pacific Highway diversion that is yet to be funded and built by government, but already exists on GPS maps.

Revelations this week that GPS navigation companies have included the RTA’s preferred bypass route on their most recently released maps has stunned many, including highway planners.

The Roads and Traffic Authority yesterday gave an assurance that the highway project is not yet a ‘done deal’ and that the community consultation process is continuing.

“At this stage the route is still a preferred route. If it is depicted as anything else other than a ‘preferred route’ on any GPS systems then these systems are incorrect,” an RTA spokesman said.

The Coffs Coast Advocate revealed on Wednesday that the bypass has already been plotted on Garmin GPS system maps, as well as the popular online mapping tool Whereis.com.au

This is despite the fact the proposed bypass route still being open to change based on community comment.

“The RTA has approached Coffs Harbour City Council to formally reserve the preferred corridor for the four-lane bypass from south of Englands Road to Korora Hill,” the spokesman said.

“Once funding becomes available for the project an environmental assessment will begin and planning approval will be sought,” he said.

Landowners whose properties stand in the way of the preferred route say it’s not a case of if, but when the Coffs Harbour bypass happens.

They’ve made the presumption based on ongoing negotiations over compulsory land acquisition.

Upon hearing the news of the GPS maps, Coffs Harbour State Member Andrew Fraser and Federal Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker jointly criticised the RTA.

Both politicians claimed it showed closed doors decisions were being made over the Pacific Highway project with little regard for the Coffs Harbour community.

Mr Fraser has vocally supported a Far Western Bypass of Coffs Harbour

“I am amazed to see it on a map, once again it shows how the RTA operates,” Mr Fraser said.

The RTA claims it will continue to consult with landowners and the community over the design.

Under its plan, the Pacific Highway would link the Coffs Harbour CBD to the interchanges at Englands Road and Korora Hill.

The Coramba Road interchange would provide access to west Coffs Harbour and the Orara Valley.

The preferred route for the bypass could also pass through major ridges near the western end of Mackays Road and Gatelyns Road in either deep cuttings or tunnels.

A landscaped overpass is proposed at Roberts Hill Ridge.

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Coffs bypass on GPS

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