Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack was asked when the Environmental Impact Statement for the Coffs Bypass would be released.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack was asked when the Environmental Impact Statement for the Coffs Bypass would be released.

Designing to the dollar or designing the best?

THE Deputy PM's comments about funding arrangements for the Coffs Bypass have left some scratching their heads.

When Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack was in town last week he referred to 'changed guidelines' for the project.

"When we put down the $971 million dollars as part of the Commonwealth's 80 per cent contribution to this important project that is what we thought was required," Mr McCormack said.

"That's what we provided and of course the community and others then wanted tunnels so we're happy to look at that."

Coffs Bypass Action Group (CBAG) spokesperson Rod McKelvey says he was perplexed by these remarks.

"He seemed to suggest that the $971 million set aside by the Federal Government was based on cuttings, however our understanding is that conversations ongoing with council at that time (May 2018) still included tunnels," Mr McKelvey said.

"The community were also expecting tunnels until shocked by the cuttings in the Preferred Concept Design released in September 2018. How did they decide on this amount without detailed plans?"

The action group has applauded Councillor Sally Townley's efforts to obtain the business case for this project which they say would help to 'solve the riddle' of why cuttings were included in the first place.

"Were they designing to the dollars as opposed to finding the dollars for the right design? Continuing negotiations through the courts are bringing this information closer to hand but the RMS' continued stalling and lack of transparency makes us highly suspicious of the process," Mr McKelvey said.

 

An artist impression of the Coffs Harbour Bypass showing the Korora Hill Interchange.
An artist impression of the Coffs Harbour Bypass showing the Korora Hill Interchange.

When it is finally released the community will be looking closely to see if feedback on the interchanges will be taken into account.

"The Englands Road interchange needed a redesign as it fed all heavy vehicles onto the existing Pacific Highway which is unworkable for any B-Doubles wanting to enter Isles Drive from the south because that would necessitate an illegal turn," Mr McKelvey said.

"We understand the Coramba Interchange could be achieved with a much smaller footprint, assisting residents of Roselands Estate and the Korora Interchange included traffic lights to enter the on ramp for those heading north out of town - a peak hour nightmare."

The Advocate understands there's currently some diary coordination going on in preparation for a joint EIS release, with representation from all levels of government.

The Coffs Harbour Bypass will be funded under an 80:20 split between the Federal and State governments.

State Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh says the EIS should be out within the next two weeks.



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