Candidates share their tunnel visions with residents
IT IS a rare occasion when all candidates for the upcoming State Election are on exactly the same page but that happened last night at the Coffs Bypass Action Group State Candidates' forum.
CBAG today announced that every candidate publicly supported the inclusion of tunnels on the 14km Coffs Harbour Bypass route as set out in the Connell and Wagner report from 2008.
This means a vote of political confidence for three tunnels at Roberts Hill (proposed to be 80m in length), Shephards Lane (350m in length) and Gately's Road (450m in length).
Attending the forum were The Nationals candidate Gurmesh Singh, Independent candidate Dr Sally Townley, Labor candidate Tony Judge, Labor, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Stuart Davidson and The Greens state candidate Jonathan Cassell along with 120 locals.
The major players were also in agreement that the fact that current RMS practice prohibit dangerous goods types 1 and 2.1 from using tunnels would not stop them supporting tunnels, the CBAG stated.
As the Labor candidate, Tony Judge said: "This has been one of the biggest furphys of this discussion. Hundreds of dangerous goods vehicles travel through Sydney roads on a daily basis with no problems."
The Bypass Action Group said statistics suggest this would mean between seven and 12 trucks still going through Coffs each day, with one in three of them having to enter Coffs Harbour to refill here anyway.
Gurmesh Singh, The Nationals candidate, stated this problem with dangerous goods is 'statewide and is being looked at closely.'
Audience members pointed out that overseas dangerous goods travel through tunnels that are kilometres long despite the RMS regulation in NSW.
The Coramba Interchange remains a controversial issue with all candidates stating they would be looking at this more closely now, an action group spokesperson said.
"A question was asked about noise remediation for residents who will be within metres of the construction and Gurmesh Singh handed that to current sitting member, Andrew Fraser, who committed to helping residents obtain this," CBAG said.
"The other thing that became obvious is that there are still many questions to be answered for example what happened to the provision for a third lane?
"Details are still lacking and the audience asked for more information to be forthcoming sooner rather than later with the new Consultative Committee seen as a likely to be a distraction rather than of assistance.
Graham Stubington, spokesperson for the Action Group asked for a commitment to an independent body being appointed to oversee the RMS on noise.
"The current position is that the RMS is the body that creates the noise problem and they also measure and report on what should be done about it. Independent assessors should be appointed."
Gurmesh Singh's response was that he would agree to that if it was felt necessary.
Chairman, Brian Polack wrapped up the meeting by reiterating what the Action Group is looking for:
1. A clear written statement. a. For parties with a central state body: A statement from the minister or shadow minister with responsibility for roads that sets out clearly the party's requirements for the Coffs Harbour Bypass.
b. For independents. A statement that sets out clearly the candidate's requirements for the Coffs Harbour Bypass and a statement of how they intend going about making that happen.
2. Key elements of the written statement. a. A clear directive to the RMS to go back to the 3-tunnel model proposed in the 2008 Connell Wagner Concept Design Report, and consistent with the May 2016 State Significant Infrastructure application.
b. Categorically state that 'the road must be able to be used by all vehicles' is not a specific requirement for the RMS to consider.
c. Support an independent noise analysis being undertaken apart from the RMS to ensure transparency. This would involve pre and post project noise analysis and involvement right through the project design phase.
"We need our state leaders Gladys Berejiklian and Michael Daley to be giving the people of Coffs Harbour a written commitment on this," Mr Polack said.
"Similarly the Federal Transport leaders, Michael McCormack and Anthony Albanese need to recommit to funding this project.
"Otherwise, unfortunately, the amazing cross-party local support we saw last night becomes just another talkfest.
"The Action Group will continue to work hard on this until we see the full details and a proper commitment."