Pacific Highway 'a priority'

NATIONAL Party politicians are making broad promises on infrastructure funding should they be elected in March but are avoiding becoming too specific about Pacific Highway black spots.

State Opposition Roads spokesman Andrew Stoner has told Dr Harriet Playle that in government the Coalition would make the Pacific Highway a priority and was committed to seeing it finished by 2016 or earlier if possible. Mr Stoner is also the member for Oxley.

Dr Playle is the spokeswoman for the 63 member strong Doctors for a Safe Pacific Highway lobby group, which recently sent a 3000-signature petition to State Parliament.

Projects 'such as the Warrell Creek to Urunga section of the Pacific Highway' would benefit from the Coalition’s promised $5 billion in additional funding for critical infrastructure, Mr Stoner said.

Responding to a letter from Mr Stoner on behalf of the Mid North Coast community, NSW Roads Minister David Borger said a speed zone review of the Pacific Highway, from north of Valla Beach to Nambucca Heads, was expected to be completed by the end of the year.

He said the review would be assessed using the ‘crash history, road geometry, surrounding conditions, road usage, adjacent development, vehicle types and volumes and the number of access points along this section of the highway’, but added, ‘any possible improvements arising from this review, including any changes to the central median, will need to be considered along with other worthwhile State projects.’

Mr Borger also has 35 days from December 2 to respond to the medical lobby groups’ petition asking for immediate safety measures and a faster upgrade of this section of highway. This means he should respond by the end of January.

“I reckon I had white knuckles from Kempsey to Coffs Harbour on my last trip (up the Pacific Highway) because there were that many trucks and the visibility was lousy,” said Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser, who worries that the most difficult sections of the Pacific Highway are being left until last in the multi-billion-dollar Federal/State highway upgrade project.

He would like to see the bypass of Coffs Harbour postponed until more dangerous sections are completed.

“The planning is all done for the Urunga bypass and it is ready to go, but it is not funded,” he said.

“Macksville has been put in front because of the ‘chokes’ on the highway that can cause five-hour delays.”

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