WAR rages at Pacific Hwy upgrade

THE next stage of the Pacific Highway upgrade is expected to begin early next year.

The State Government announced $100 million had been set aside for work to begin on the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade in the budget on Tuesday.

In the meantime the RTA are still carrying out geotechnical surveys and will be calling for and examining tenders for the construction with costs for the construction to be finalised before a contractor is appointed.

Once work begins it is anticipated that the contractor will build an earthwork machine compound and then tackle the enormous earthworks that are needed to begin the project.

But the upgraded highway represents a bitter disappointment for the Woolgoolga Area Residents Group (WAR) who has been fighting for a western alternative for the past eight years.

WAR president Bruce Scanlon said it still made more sense for the RTA to plan the western route because by the time the whole upgrade was finished which included the Coffs Harbour bypass, Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade and the Woolgoolga to Wells Creek upgrade there would be no alternative but to build a western route.

“That's why we say it should be a proper alternative route and that way it will last 50 to 100 years. This is a very short-term option,” he said.

Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser also agreed that the western bypass route was the best option for the community.

However, the Minister for Roads, Mr Michael Daley believed the $718 million dollars spent along the whole of the Pacific Highway demonstrated the government's commitment to upgrade the State's number one highway

“The NSW Government has been working hard to make the Pacific Highway as safe as possible, and these upgrades will continue that trend,” he said.

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