RTA inactive as road toll grows
SEVEN dead and 68 injured in more than 85 smashes – that’s the shocking story of the Pacific Highway south of Urunga in just five years.
These appalling figures for the notorious 20 kilometre stretch of road between Nambucca Heads and Urunga paint the true – and tragic – picture of government inaction to fix the highway.
The latest victim is a young man who yesterday was still fighting for life after he was hurled 20 metres from his vehicle after it slammed into a B-double south of Urunga on Tuesday night.
The Newcastle 23-year-old remained in a critical but stable condition late yesterday in Coffs Harbour Health Campus where he was being treated for serious head, chest and leg injuries.
Despite the growing carnage, the Roads and Traffic Authority still won’t say when the road will be upgraded.
An RTA spokesman said this section of road would be improved to a four-lane divided highway under the 42km-long Warrell Creek to Urunga project.
“At this stage, funding is available to complete planning and pre-building activities for the upgrade, with a start and completion date for main building dependent on when further funding becomes available,” the spokesman said.
This, as the shocking road toll continues. The RTA also said it was still considering the public comments fired in during the exhibition of the environmental assessment.
“A report is currently being prepared on submissions received in response to the environmental assessment, which includes issues such as flooding and impacts on biodiversity,” the spokesman said.
“Once completed, the submissions report will be submitted to the Department of Planning for further assessment.”
Meanwhile, an angry Andrew Fraser, the Member for Coffs Harbour, said the Auditor General must now do a performance audit of the RTA over-funding of the Pacific Highway.
“While the Bonville deviation has been completed, the increasing number of accidents north and south of Coffs Harbour now shows that the accident zones have shifted,” Mr Fraser said. “This also proves that divided carriageways save lives.”
Tuesday’s accident happened in an 80km/h zone on a sweeping left-hand bend about 800 metres north of Martells Road.
The northbound Daihatsu Charade driven by the young man appears to have skidded in the wet and crossed to the wrong side of the road into the path of the oncoming B-double, driven by a Queensland man, 59.
The Daihatsu careered off the road and came to rest down an embankment. The B-double, meanwhile, continued hurtling south for another 100 metres before veering off the road and ploughing through scrub.
While the truck driver was not injured, he was also taken to hospital where he was treated for shock.