DRIVING one of NSW’s most deadly stretches of road, the need for a Pacific Highway upgrade between Coffs Harbour and Ballina ‘hit home’ for NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell in very real terms.
In Coffs Harbour yesterday, Mr O’Farrell told of how he survived two close calls during his bus tour.
He did so while reflecting on the death of a 69-year-old Central Coast man killed near Iluka on the same stretch of road just hours earlier on Thursday.
Touching on the pain of countless families who have lost love ones on the highway, he gave a commitment to fast-track the dual carriageway project should he be elected as NSW Premier.
“The head-on accident wouldn’t have occurred if it was divided highway,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“It brings home to me not a lot has changed – it’s time for specific deadlines and an end to the stupidity – no more watered-down commitments.”
The Opposition Leader revealed the bus he was travelling in had two narrow escapes with a tractor and a truck amid the school holiday traffic on the notorious stretch.
In a call to NSW Premier Kristina Keneally to tour the road herself, he attacked previous Labor governments over the unfulfilled pledge of full highway duplication by 1996.
Mr O’Farrell vowed a Coalition Government would look to outfund State Treasury’s $10 million commitment and complete the works inside the projected completion date of 2016.
“My first priority is to assess the funding model . . . but the business case model for the Pacific Highway speaks for itself,” he said.
An APN online poll asked readers: Do you feel safe travelling on the Pacific Highway? 7% indicated ‘Completely’, 28% ‘Sometimes’ and 63% said ‘Never’.