'So worried for our city' as bypass looms
ONE night in July 2014 Trish Welsh woke to a roaring noise.
"I jumped out of bed. It was about 11.30. I thought my water tank was overflowing but when I opened my front door it hit me like a ton of bricks - it was the highway."
She hadn't realised it was the day the speed limit on the new Sapphire to Woolgoolga section of the Pacific Highway bypass was increased from 80 to 110km per hour.
She was living in Sea Change Crescent, Moonee Beach, and had spent five years lobbying for the alternative inner west or Coastal Ringroad route but, as the years went on, she realised it was a losing battle.
The Coastal Ringroad Action Group was formed from six other bypass groups and one of their greatest concerns with the inner west route was the traffic noise that would bounce off the surrounding hills, creating an amphitheatre effect.
"I gave five years of my life to it. Throughout the whole process the RTA and Connell Wagner continually acknowledged the issues of concern however it was very obvious that they only had one option, the cheapest route, the inner corridor."
So when the bypass came by her Moonee Beach home she was prepared for the disruption but had no idea how bad the noise would be.
She sold her home and was gone within months.
"It was very sad when I sold - I built the house and absolutely loved it but I just couldn't sleep and in summer I had to close the windows and put the fan on high to try to block out the noise."
Trish shared her experience and played a recording of the highway noise at the recent bypass public meeting attended by about 500 people at the PCYC.
She has urged people to focus their attention on getting the best possible outcome for the current route to the west of town and was disappointed to see the discussion return to the 'old ground' of the Coastal Ringroad.
"I was a bit disappointed as the purpose of the meeting was improving what we've got and if we went back to the drawing board we would be looking at another 20 years."
And the best possible outcome she firmly believes is that tunnels, included in plans up until a few weeks ago, be reinstated as they will make it lower, quieter, less of an eyesore, less polluting and less damaging to Aboriginal heritage, flora and fauna, farms and property prices.
"I was driving back into Coffs from the south today and looked out past the big wind mill and just tried to imagine those large elevated cuttings up there and I just felt so worried for our city."