Highway short-list announced



THE Roads and Traffic Authority yesterday released its four proposed routes for the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale Pacific Highway upgrade.

The short-listed routes span across the entire study area originally released by the RTA in November 2004 and expanded in April this year.

Options A and B run closest to the existing Pacific Highway, while Option D is the furthermost east, cutting through cane fields in the Midgen Flat area.

Option C is in between A and D crossing over Emigrant Creek.

Brookfarm owner Martin Brook yesterday announced he would be closing his gourmet macadamia operation on St Helena Road and possibly moving to Queensland because every short-listed route would ruin his business.

"The decision to build a tunnel through St Helena and take the State's finest agricultural land is a crime," he said.

"We were on the verge of creating a really viable food industry based on what we grow. It's such a shame this (State) Government is being driven by the desires of the trucking industry."

However, Ewingsdale resident and NRMA board candidate Bernard Grinberg was happy each of the options included a tunnel under St Helena Road.

"You can't make a safe transit along the Coolamon Scenic Drive ridge without a tunnel," he said.

"Whichever way this goes it will divide communities.

"CARS (Community Alliance for Road Sustainability) has proposed all along that a far more westerly route be chosen."

State Member for Ballina Don Page said he preferred Options A and B.

"Option A appears to be the most sensible, particularly A2, but A1 and B1 are close to the existing highway and won't jeopardise planning approval for the Ballina bypass," he said.

"My position has been that the route should follow the existing corridor as closely as possible on the basis that people with property elsewhere had no reasonable expectation a highway would be built through their properties when they bought them."

Newrybar Landcare president June Zentveld's coffee plantation on Broken Head Road would be destroyed by Option C.

However, she said she did not support any of the proposals.

"All of our land is sacred and special and none of it should be taken away by trucks," she said.

"This whole thing is horrendous. The community needs to rise up and demand trucks be moved back to the New England Highway. This six-lane super-highway is being built for trucks."

The route options will be on display at various locations between Ballina and Ewingsdale until November 18.

Copies can also be obtained at www.rta.nsw.gov.au/pacific or by calling 1800882787.

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