Mayors fight for highway upgrade

ANOTHER horror week on the highway will dominate discussion as the Pacific Highway Taskforce, made up of North Coast mayors, meets in Sydney again tomorrow.

A fatal truck accident and a three-vehicle crash, south of Urunga at Hungry Head have added weight to the mayors’ push on government to hurry up and fix the highway.

It’s now nine months since the mayors of Coffs Harbour (Keith Rhoades), Clarence Valley (Ritchie Williamson), Richmond Valley (Col Sullivan) and Ballina (Phil Silver) started lobbying for dual carriage upgrades.

Cr Rhoades, the newly elected Local Government Association of NSW president, said the taskforce now has a clearer picture of how much is needed to finish the job.

“The RTA has revealed there’s an outstanding $6.5 billion that’s required to complete the Federal Government’s commitment of dual carriage between Hexham and the Queensland border by 2016,” Cr Rhoades said.

“It’s that shortfall that’s really important and the reason why the taskforce is still working hard, pursuing every avenue to lobby government for the necessary funding.

“We will not be completely satisfied until the job is finished.

Leaving preferred route selections up to the RTA and local communities, the taskforce’s sole focus is dollars, sense and reason.

In the meantime, it’s pitched a desperate plea to motorists.

With ‘The Pacific’ now predominantly dual carriageway between Port Macquarie and Newcastle and works under way north of Coffs Harbour and Ballina, Urunga has been acknowledged as the highway’s greatest ‘death trap’.

“South of Urunga is the real problem child of the highway. It’s the fatigue zone where fatal accidents are happening.

“Therefore it’s imperative that motorists travelling the divided dual carriageway do not become complacent, because all of a sudden you’re straight back onto a notorious stretch of single undivided roadway that has claimed many lives,” he said.

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