Greens call for rail
RECENT Pacific Highway upgrades on the North Coast have had a major impact on cutting the region’s road toll on improved sections.
However, the Greens have called for a rethink on highway upgrade policy, instead proposing that more freight be shifted on to rail.
Greens candidates for Cowper and Page, Dominic King and Jeff Johnson, have outlined their joint plan to solve the highway carnage.
From a meeting at Harwood this week, they proposed to phase out B-Doubles on the Pacific Highway, and upgrade freight rail infrastructure to make rail the primary transport for interstate freight.
“Rail is a far more energy efficient and climate friendly way to move freight. Heavy vehicles are a major contributor to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Johnson said.
Mr King said: “Getting freight off the highway and on to our railways will also have major safety benefits, and improve conditions for locals who are forced to share the highway every day with increasing numbers of heavy vehicles.
“Fatal accidents claim both car and truck drivers.”
Standing at the approach to Harwood Bridge, the Greens candidates called for a rethink on current policies towards upgrading the Pacific Highway.
They have proposed the scrapping of motorway-scale upgrades, with a focus instead on urgent safety works, town and village bypasses, and upgrades to standard dual-carriageways, sticking to existing alignments where possible.
Mr Johnson said: “The Pacific Highway still goes through villages such as Ulmarra and Woodburn that desperately need bypassing, and has many single-lane winding sections that need upgrading.
“The focus of State and Federal governments has been on building an expensive motorway rather than making the existing road safer as quickly as possible.
“Scrapping oversized motorway plans, and instead getting on with the job of building standard dual-carriageway upgrades, will not only deliver a safer highway sooner but will save billions which can instead be redirected into the rail network.
“Instead of building bigger roads we should be improving the rail system, getting freight and passengers off the highway.”
Both Greens candidates agreed it was time the major parties stopped playing politics and made a firm commitment to better funding for rail.