Forum to drive home highway horrors

By BREE PRICE

FEDERAL Transport Minister John Anderson and NSW Minister for Roads Michael Costa are expected to attend a summit in Ballina on the state of the Pacific Highway.

Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC) president Cr Ernie Bennett said the group would host the summit on May 6.

The councils are concerned at the number of lives lost on the highway and have called for more dual carriageway.

Cr Bennett said representatives of every council from Hexham, near Newcastle, to Tweed Heads were also expected to attend, as well as leaders of industries such as tourism and trucking.

The mayors of Tweed, Ballina and Lismore had already confirmed they would be there.

"We need dual carriageway from Hexham to the border and at the end of the day it is only the State and Federal governments who can do something about this. It's a funding issue," Cr Bennett said.

"They (Anderson and Costa) need to come and talk to the community about the issues.

"I believe they will attend, but if they can't attend themselves, I'm sure they will send a representative.

"And I would expect full attendance from all councils because it's such an important issue right along the coast."

Cr Bennett said the Pacific Highway was NOROC's number one issue.

"The Pacific Highway is 800 kilometres of trouble and dissatisfaction and it really is a last resort for councils to organise such a summit," he said.

"Let's get the decision made to fund the dual carriageway, then look at the funding sources.

"I understand it can't happen overnight, but we need to try and halve the dual-carriageway completion time from the projected 15 years.

"All along its length, communities are coping with increased traffic and dangerous driving conditions.

"Over 10 years 430 lives have been lost on the Pacific Highway and that's huge. One life is too many.

"Governments can't address every issue, but this is way out of hand and way beyond it's due date and needs to be ad- dressed now."



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