Money for Coffs bypass in the budget mix
DEPUTY Prime Minister Michael McCormack has given his strongest indication yet that the Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass could attract funding surety in next week's 2018-19 Federal Budget.
The Advocate asked Mr McCormack's office about rising optimism in the local community that a funding announcement for the project could be made on Tuesday night.
At this stage of the billion dollar project's timeline, the NSW Government has submitted the Coffs Harbour Bypass business case to Infrastucture Australia, which in 2016 deemed the project to be one of 'national significance.'
"The NSW Government is continuing to progress planning works for the project, including design and environmental investigations," Mr McCormack's office told The Advocate.
Those works the geotechnical studies and environmental impact statement are being funded by a $200 million commitment made by the State Government together with property acquisitions along the preferred route that have been underway for some years.
"The Federal Government is actively engaged with the NSW Government to progress the project and the Deputy PM is working closely with local MP Luke Hartsuyker to ensure any concerns from local residents are addressed," Mr McCormack's media advisors stated.
"The upgrade of the Pacific Highway is delivering a major stimulus for local and regional businesses, improved connectivity to markets, and reduced transport and freight costs for all users.
"The Treasurer will release the 2018-19 Federal Budget on Tuesday, May 8."
In March, Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker spoke with Mr McCormack about the importance of the project and was joined by Mayor of Coffs Harbour Denise Knight and the council's General Manager Steve McGrath.
In his latest statement, Mr Hartsuyker said Federal Government funds must be included in the 2018-2019 Federal Budget in order for the Turnbull Government to 'maximise its return on record investment in the Pacific Highway.'
"The exponential increase of traffic through Coffs Harbour is becoming untenable, with 12 sets of traffic lights stopping trucks and motorists on our local streets," Mr Hartsuyker said.
"We have seen a 95 per cent reduction in road fatalities where dual-carriageway works have been completed. The Coffs Harbour Bypass will make our local roads safer."
"The draft routes for this project were first released in July 2001, nearly 17 years ago, our community has waited for this bypass for far too long.
"While there is more work to do before construction can start, it is absolutely vital the Coffs Harbour bypass is funded in the federal budget so work can begin as quickly as possible."
More developments on the pre-Budget Pacific Highway Bypass debate in Saturday's Advocate.