HIGHWAY UPGRADE DOWNGRADING LIVES
By HELEN JACK
GRAEME MILLER and wife Margit are counting the cost in lost value to their home from construction of the new Pacific Highway at Ocean Shores.
Their home overlooks a section of the upgraded highway from Brunswick Heads to Yelgun which opened on July 11. And the Millers are not alone. The new highway is causing sleepless nights for hundreds of people.
Two hundred local residents packed the Ocean Shores Country Club's main auditorium on Tuesday night to describe to RTA representatives how traffic noise is robbing them of sleep, and impacting on their health and wallets.
One Ocean Shores woman told the gathering she had resorted to sleeping pills to get to sleep. Others, constantly woken during the night by trucks running over ripple strips, said they had given up trying to sleep, preferring to get up and pursue hobbies or work to pass the time until dawn.
Mr Miller's property in Galba Avenue is part of a hill bordering the highway. Half of it was cut away and retained with pylons driven through the remainder of the hill.
Drains and a retaining wall were also built to secure it. But Mr Miller said the drains and compacting machines had succeeded in disturbing the sub-soil under his house, causing its foundations to move.
"I complained to the RTA three times and finally they got an 'expert' to come and do a test," he said.
"We were eventually told vibration levels were acceptable, but when something like that is constant it has to have an effect."
Residents living five kilometres from the highway said they were experiencing noise levels never heard before the highway opened.
RTA Pacific Highway general manager Bob Higgins told the meeting sound testing near the highway would not start until October when all work was finished.
"It's important for us to understand if (the noise) is coming from the road surface or the ripple strips," he said.
Mr Higgins' response was referred to as 'unsatisfactory' and many considered the meeting was enough public consultation with the RTA to justify approaching the director-general.
MP Don Page said he would make representations to the NSW Minister for Roads Eric Roozendaal on behalf of residents.