Decades of work may go out the window
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
AFTER two decades of meticulous building, paving and planting, Peter Moore's masterpiece property was almost complete.
However, on Tuesday night the Wardell landscaper received the most devastating phone call of his life, one that would ultimately mean his years of labour were wasted.
The Roads and Traffic Authority told him they had made an 11th-hour decision to extend their study area for the Woodburn to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade.
The modification meant the Moore family's Wardell home was in the direct path of the NSW Government's preferred route for the highway, announced on Wednesday.
The edge of the half-hectare Lumleys Lane property was previously at least 100m away from the closest of the six section two routes proposed by the RTA and placed on public exhibition in June.
Mr Moore, who was appointed by the RTA to one of its community liaison groups, was never told the study area could be expanded and described the decision as a betrayal.
"We were not even in the study area, and now we've found out we're losing everything a night before they release the route to the press," he said.
"It hurts a lot. I hope the people between Ewingsdale and Tintenbar see this and realise they're not safe, even if they don't live on one of the proposed routes."
When asked why they had expanded the study area without notifying affected residents earlier, an RTA spokesman said: "The preferred route was selected to provide the best overall balance between practical, ecological, social and economic considerations."
Mr Moore has spent every spare moment he has had for the past 20 years renovating and landscaping with his wife, and said they were just about finished.
"We've got three kids and I've given up a lot of weekends I could've spent with them to work on the property," he said.
"Now that it's almost done, and we do have the time to enjoy it, we have to uproot. I've got 20 years of doing to undo."
The Moores' slice of paradise was valued at between $500,000 and $600,000 last year, however, they are unaware how much the RTA is willing to pay for the land.
One thing they do know is they will be thousands of dollars out of pocket until the highway is actually built.
"That could take years. Until the Government gets the funding for the road we have to wait in limbo," Mr Moore said.
"We'll try and buy another place in the meantime and rent this one out, which will put us in debt."
Mr Moore took the day off work yesterday to try to cope with the distress caused by the highway announcement.
However, by the afternoon he had become philosophical about the news.
"Things do happen for a reason, and maybe the RTA has done us a favour," he said.
"We're losing the lot, but the neighbours will have a motorway metres away from their front doorsteps and they won't get any compensation."
The public is invited to submit feedback to the RTA on its choice until January 31.