It's not a bypass, it's a ring road
IT'S a ring road, not a bypass, says Jensen Close resident Sue Strodl and she is urging the community to stand up for themselves.
Like many other residents in the area, she knew Coffs Harbour was getting a bypass but, as she argues, this is not what is being planned.
"We knew we were getting a bypass but what we didn't know was that it was going to be a ring road - we thought it would go around Coffs Harbour. People might then say 'well you should have researched more' but things have changed so much and plans haven't been clear as shown by the recent plans with the tunnels abandoned.
"The RMS calls this a bypass but it's not. This is a ring road - a CBD bypass at best - we've just moved the problem elsewhere.”
She understands people are desperate to get the highway traffic out of town but that the current plan simply doesn't stack up.
"People are cynical and jaded and just want it done but this is a very dangerous situation for Coffs Harbour, having a highway running through a valley location with the associated noise, pollution and visual impacts lighting up the hills all night. My view is it would be irresponsible not to revisit the western bypass (or Coastal Ridgeway route) option.”
In collaboration with approximately 40 others she has formed the Coffs Bypass Action Group.
"I work in IT and have never done any activism and I don't have any political allegiance. We are in a very unique period at the moment with both members retiring and the opposition are all ears so people need to be thinking about their political voice.
"Our community needs to understand that we can say no. We can demand options be reconsidered for a better outcome and we can make our government fulfil our demands.
"We must be ambitious with our vision for the future of our town, for a prosperous and vibrant community, a desirable and unique place to live and visit. A ring road will have profound impacts on realising that vision, it will diminish our potential as a town and if built, future generations will scratch their heads in bewilderment and wonder why we allowed this beautiful town to be sabotaged by the foolish and short-sighted decision to build a highway through it.”
She fears apathy has set in as the planning process has dragged on.
"The problem we have today is that this discussion has been going on for more than 40 years, people have become jaded, worn down, disinterested and desperate. Many people fear that if they don't accept whatever the government proposes then we get nothing at all.”
Many residents in west Coffs Harbour like James Thacker, who lives on Buchanans Road, were fully aware a bypass was planned for the area but by way of tunnels, not the cuttings and road bridges as outlined in the recent amended plans.
"Two years ago I was willing to live with a fair bit of it, but at this point I don't know what we're going to do.”
Just as Ms Strodl is urging the community to 'say no' to the current plans, Coffs Harbour Council has also resolved to 'rebel' against against State and Federal governments.
"This town has got to get off it's butt and it's got to stand up against this government that is just hell bent on giving us what would be an absolute disaster for this town," Cr Rhoades said.
"If people living in West Coffs want to sit on their hands and let the government go ahead with what they're proposing, all I can say is don't come back and say 'why didn't we do something?” he said at the recent council meeting.
Ms Strodl is urging the community to attend the public meeting on the matter organised by concerned residents for Thursday evening at 7pm at the PCYC in Bray Street.