Pacific Hwy taskforce talks

LOCAL mayors and medicos have ramped up their crusade for a quicker fix to the Pacific Highway.

The Pacific Highway Taskforce – comprising the North Coast's civic leaders – and the Doctors for a Safe Pacific Highway have requested a pow-wow with three of the State Government's senior ministers.

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, Roads Minister Duncan Gay and North Coast Minister Don Page are yet to confirm their attendance at the Taskforce's next gathering, due within weeks, at Port Macquarie.

Taskforce chairman Richie Williamson said the purpose of meeting with the ministers was “to discuss funding options and a joint way forward” on the highway upgrade.

“It is also hoped to have representatives from Infrastructure Australia at our next Taskforce meeting,” said Cr Williamson, the Clarence Valley mayor. “This would be a marvellous opportunity for Mr Stoner and his National Party ministers to meet with the Taskforce and representatives of the doctors.

“The Pacific Highway Taskforce has for more than a decade been advocating for the upgrade of the Pacific Highway to dual carriageway between Hexham and the Queensland border to be completed by the due date in 2016.”

A week ago, Cr Williamson welcomed Mr Gay's pledge made on the Coffs Coast that his government would match the Federal Government's commitment to the 2016 completion.

Mr Gay said at the time the numbers were being crunched to meet the federal request for $750 million in state funding.

Cr Williamson is also supporting a push by the Mid North Coast NSW Business Chamber for ‘six-monthly report cards' on the status of the upgrade.

The chamber wants the report cards to be signed off by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell “to ensure accountability and responsibility in delivering the entire upgrade by the 2016 target date”.

“The Pacific Highway is an economic handbrake on the development of local economies along the NSW North Coast,” chamber regional manager Kellon Beard said.

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