Troy takes taskforce top job

HE is the figurehead of a shire caught in the middle of road carnage.

Bellingen Council Mayor Mark Troy is sadly accustomed to news another fatal accident has happened on his patch.

The stretch south of Urunga is now the worst road in the state so it’s fitting the incoming chair of the Pacific Highway Taskforce should be based there.

“Every time I hear of another accident I am filled with repeated disbelief and despair,” Cr Troy said.

“And the hardest part is it is history repeating itself – we went through this agony some years ago while we waited for the Raleigh to Coffs upgrade to be completed.

“It’s just gut-wrenching.”

He said everyone in the shire lived with the uncertainty that surrounds travelling on Pacific Highway between Urunga and Nambucca Heads.

“This stretch is not only a highway, but also a local road which friends, family and colleagues travel every day.

“The volume and mix of traffic is clearly a recipe for disaster – it really is the blackest of black spots.”

Just how black was really brought home to Cr Troy with the recent death of staff member Matthew Vinen on his way home from work.

“It felt absolutely numbing to lose someone in those circumstances,” he said.

“It really hit home and made the situation very personal.

“I also feel for the emergency service workers and volunteers, who are repeatedly called on to attend these accidents. There is only so much a person can take.”

As the newly-elected interim chair of the Pacific Highway Taskforce – while Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson campaigns in the state elections – Cr Troy said everything possible was being done to get interim safety measures installed as soon as possible.

“When measures such as shoulder widening, central barriers and speed cameras were installed on the old highway between Raleigh and Coffs, we saw the accident rate drop from almost one a week to nothing.

“It is important to make representations to those who can make these changes and keep the pressure up.

“The opportunity presented itself this week when Cr Keith Rhoades happened to be in Sydney and was able to speak directly to the Minister for Roads.”

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