NRMA report puts cost on crashes

ROAD crashes cost the Northern Rivers $60,000 a day, an independent NRMA Motoring and Services study has revealed.

The NRMA is pushing for urgent upgrades to the Bruxner Highway and the Lismore to Bangalow Road after an audit on the roads was released in Lismore yesterday.

"The total cost of crashes on the 180km stretch of the Bruxner from 2001 to 2003 was estimated close to $50 million," NRMA director Wendy Machin said yesterday.

The audit was conducted by research company Maunsell Australia for the Far North Coast and Northern Rivers Better Roads Panel.

Northern Star editor Russell Eldridge is on the advisory panel and said his involvement was part of the newspaper's commitment to improving local roads.

The audit recommends improving both routes with increased overtaking opportunities, improvements on curves and intersections at black spots and replacing the wooden bridge at Tabulam.

"We want to see the highway upgrade finished in 10 years but the State and Federal Governments will need to change their funding priorities and have the political will to do it," Ms Machin said.

"The report estimates implementing road treatments at known crash locations could save $14.6 million alone in crash costs over three years."

She said the study revealed there was a crash on the Bruxner Highway between Ballina and Tenterfield almost every two days.

"Over a 10-year period there were 1667 crashes on the 180km stretch, causing some 30 deaths and 1172 injuries," she said.

Ms Machin called on the State Government to bring forward much-needed works to make the roads safer, making special mention of the Alstonville bypass.

The audit included assessments of the roads' condition and traffic levels, crash data, recommendations for crash reduction and findings about freight and tourist use.

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