This aerial view shows work on the southern end of the Ballina bypass.
This aerial view shows work on the southern end of the Ballina bypass. DAVID NIELSEN

$10m highway funding announcement

IT will cost another $6 billion to finish upgrading the Pacific Highway, so an announcement of $10 million for planning and design work is just a fraction of what is needed.

But the funding from the State Government, which is for the section between Ballina and Woolgoolga, has still been welcomed.

Ballina Shire mayor Phillip Silver said the money would help keep the project ‘ticking along’.

“This $10 million will keep projects which are unfunded moving forward, from a planning point of view,” he said.

“It’s not the big capital that we need, but I am pleased that the wheels are still turning.

“Now the RTA can start to look at route options.”

Cr Silver said the councils between Ballina and Coffs Harbour would be consulted on the design ‘in the same way as the broader community’.

“Ballina Shire will be asked for its opinion and in due course areport will come to the council,” he said.

“On the Woodburn to Ballina section we’ve had preliminary talks with canegrowers and we know there are some floodingissues.

“There are pluses and minuses for the different route options.

“But now the money is available for the RTA to have a close look at it.”

NSW’s Assistant Transport Minister David Borger, who announced the $10 million this week, confirmed that the funding would allow the RTA to prepare and submit concept plans to the Department of Planning.

“This planning will allow critical preparation work such as environmental assessments and other pre-construction activities to start as soon as further funding becomes available,” he said.

“We need to make sure the planning continues on these important projects.

“As part of the highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina, the RTA is currently building a 7km upgrade at Glenugie, south of Grafton, which is due for completion by the end of 2011.

“This section forms part of the larger Wells Crossing to Iluka Road upgrade.

“An environmental assessment is also being prepared for the 6km Devils Pulpit project north of Grafton, which forms part of the Iluka Road to Woodburn section.”

Chairman of the Pacific Highway Taskforce, Richie Williamson, said the $10 million would allow the State Government to be ‘spade ready’ to start work within a short time frame if additional funds became available.

The Pacific Highway upgrade is being jointly funded by the State and Federal governments.

The Federal Government has contributed $3.1 billion, with the State contributing $500 million.

So far just 305km of the 664km between Hexham and the border is finished.

Both governments say they are committed to a 2016 deadline, but further funding options have not been identified.

Cr Williamson said the taskforce planned to meet FederalInfrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese in an effort to ensure enough money is made available.


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