Feds take lead on Pacific Hwy
THANKS to a State Government stuff-up, critical upgrade work on the Pacific Highway at Coffs Harbour looks set to receive almost $50 million in extra funding.
The Federal Government has withheld $48 million in maintenance funds from the NSW government in punishment for the State cutting its commitment to help upgrade the Pacific Highway by $300 million in last year's mini-Budget.
NSW stands to receive $7.56 billion for road and rail by 2014 as part of the Nation Building Program, but because NSW failed to sign up before March 1, the extra $48 million in maintenance funding went back to Federal coffers for distribution.
In an ironic twist, the multi-million bonus has been redirected to the Pacific Highway specifically, and the Coffs Coast is set to reap the benefits, according to a spokesperson for Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese.
“It's not set in stone but the Pacific Highway between Coffs Harbour and Grafton is a likely candidate for the money,” the spokesperson said.
“It would be used to upgrade to a dual carriageway on that particular section of the highway.”
A spokesperson for NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal said the State Government 'remains committed to upgrading the Pacific High- way.
“NSW will invest half a billion dollars on the upgrade over the next five years,” the spokesperson said.
Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser said if the State Government needs to 'tighten its belt' it should listen to the community.
“Solutions put forward by the community for the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade are solutions that could save the government hundreds of millions of dollars in the short term and, at the same time, vastly improve safety for motorists,” Mr Fraser said.
Research by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics finding the Pacific Highway is the sixth-fastest growing route across Australia, with the stretch between Brisbane and the NSW border slated to be the nation's busiest road.
What do you think about the state of the Pacific Highway?