MPs united over Summerland option
By EMMA CORNFORD
NORTH COAST politicians at the 'Must be a better way' regional highway forum in Grafton yesterday united in their call for a Summerland Way highway option.
Ballina MP Don Page elaborated on his proposed Western highway route and urged the RTA to 'look to the future'.
"I'm just asking the RTA to please have a look at this route because, if they make a decision about the Pacific Highway without looking at this option, then they've lost a great chance to be a visionary," Mr Page said.
"They will lose the chance to not just satisfy the community and save lives, but to look to the future.
"We need to have long-term, strategic thinking here."
State Member for Lismore, Thomas George, and Member for Clarence, Steve Cansdell, supported Mr Page and urged Roads Minister Joe Tripodi to conduct a feasibility study into the proposal.
Mr George said although the western route would go through his electorate, it was what the people of the Northern Rivers wanted.
"I am one of the few members who does want the Pacific Highway through my electorate," he said.
"We have a road management problem and we all need to work together. I challenge Mr Tripodi after today to do a feasibility study and a full cost benefit analysis for this, and if I have to swallow my words when it's over then I will do it. But this needs to be looked at."
"I'd just say to Bob Higgins (RTA project manager), I hope you listen to these comments today and I hope you act on them," Mr Cansdell said.
"We're not saying this western option is the best one, we're just pleading with the Minister to investigate it ... because it takes all those sensitive coastal issues out of play."
Clarence Valley mayor Ian Tiley said the council had agreed to make itself available to the RTA at any time to discuss issues of concern.
"We will not express a preferred route because we don't believe that's our role ... but the council are certainly concerned about the process," he said.
Coffs Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades also joined the forum and urged people on the North Coast to stick together. "Just make sure you don't fall into the same hole we fell into at Coffs," he said.