Alstonville bypass is back on back burner

By SAMANTHA TURNBULL sturnbull@northernstar.com.au

BOB WILSON is in absolute despair over news the Alstonville bypass has been put off for another four years.

The head of the Alstonville Bypass Action Group said yesterday he thought the 45year-battle had come to an end in 2003 when former Premier Bob Carr visited the plateau.

"The so-called premier's promise has been broken," Mr Wilson said.

"He came to Alstonville in 2003, four days prior to the last State election, and said the bypass would be open to traffic by the end of 2006."

A spokesman for NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi yesterday confirmed work on the Alstonville bypass had been delayed until the end of 2010, but he blamed the Federal Government.

He said projects like the bypass had to be deferred because of a funding shortfall in the Federal Government's AusLink package.

A statement released by Mr Tripodi said he was forced into signing the AusLink deal.

"We signed because if we didn't meet an October 1 deadline, Federal funds would have been reallocated to other States that had signed," he said.

"The bottom line is that signing this agreement means NSW has to pay an extra $298 million for roadworks, but not signing would have cost us $940 million."

However, NSW Shadow Roads Minister Andrew Stoner said the State Government had delayed construction of the bypass to dig itself out of its own budget crisis.

"The truth is the AusLink deal unlocks $2.493 billion for big ticket land transport projects in NSW over the next five years," he said.

"The level of funding is unprecedented, yet Mr Tripodi persists in trying to argue NSW is being short-changed."

However, Mr Wilson said he blamed both governments.

"The Federal Government has gone back on its $12 million promise by allocating just $8 million until 2009," he said.

"We're being kicked between the State and Federal governments. We don't know where to go any more.

"They have let the Alston- ville/Wollongbar community down. We've had a gutful."

Mr Tripodi said the Federal Government had also short-changed the State on funding for the Pacific Highway.

"Other highways will receive 80 per cent funding from the Federal Government under AusLink, yet it is contributing only 20 per cent of what is needed every year to complete the Pacific Highway's dual carriageway program by 2016," he said.

Mr Stoner said Mr Tripodi was again dodging responsibility for his State's roads.

"The NSW Labor Government should hang its head in shame," he said.

nEditorial Page 10



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