The horror stretch of the Pacific Highway south of Urunga.
The horror stretch of the Pacific Highway south of Urunga. Frank Redward

Mayor takes road fight to Minister

CR KEITH Rhoades will today drive home the need for urgent safety improvements on the Pacific Highway south of Urunga.

Coffs Harbour’s mayor plans to meet NSW Roads Minister David Borger in Sydney where he will argue for urgent action on this horror highway stretch.

Cr Rhoades, also the newly-elected Local Government Association president, said he would lobby for a lower speed limit around Hungry Head along with the installation of speed cameras and safety barriers.

“We have to save our lives. It’s a known fact that in the great majority of fatalities, the people are locals,” Cr Rhoades said.

“We have to reduce the number of horrific accidents we’ve been having.”

Cr Rhoades said the introduction of lower speed limits and speed cameras ahead of the construction of the Bonville deviation had spectacular results in curbing fatal smashes and it would be a similar story south of Urunga.

That notorious stretch of road has had three serious smashes in only six days including last week’s accident which claimed the life of a Sydney truckie.

That sorry record was reviewed at a meeting of the Pacific Highway Taskforce in Sydney on Friday, where Cr Rhoades sat alongside his counterparts from the Clarence Valley (Richie Williamson), Bellingen (Cr Mark Troy), Richmond Valley (Col Sullivan), Ballina (Phil Silver) and Kempsey (John Bowell).

Port Stephens’ council general manager Peter Gesling and NRMA president Wendy Machin also contributed to the discussions.

“We talked about the issues affecting the region and we concentrated on the issues of the blackspots at the moment. Urunga came in for a lot of discussion,” Cr Rhoades said.

“While we lobby for money for the new highway our role is to be supportive and lobby governments for immediate funding for safety upgrades in these blackspots and push the government to get on with it.

“Our mission statement is to secure funding from the State and Federal governments and keep them to their commitment to complete the upgrading of the Pacific Highway to dual carriageway from Hexham to the Queensland border by 2016.”

In other news, Cr Rhoades has relinquished his chairmanship of the Country Mayors’ Association.

He did not re-contest the position in Sydney on Friday due to his commitments as mayor of Coffs Harbour and the latest feather in his cap, his presidency of the Local Government Association of NSW.

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