Radical shift on highway
By RENEE REDMOND and SAMANTHA TURNBULL
PUBLIC pressure has forced the RTA to consider running a planned upgrade of the Pacific Highway between Ewingsdale and Tintenbar through coastal cane fields.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Roads, Eric Roozendaal, announced yesterday the study to identify an upgraded highway route between Tintenbar and Ewingsdale would be expanded to include areas to the east of the area originally proposed by the RTA.
Mr Roozendaal said the decision to extend the study was made after suggestions from residents during the recent community consultation process.
The new study area includes land in the Newrybar Swamp, Midgen Flat and Coopers Shoot Road area.
The decision was applauded by opponents of the original highway plan, but other residents were not so happy.
Newrybar resident Paul Johnstone said extending the corridor to include swamp area was ridiculous.
"It's the lowest lying area on the North Coast and floods very easily," he said.
Macadamia farmer Geoff Dorey, who owns a property bordered by Newrybar Swamp Road, said the RTA's original plan was more practical and economical.
"The only reason the study area has been extended is because so many people complained, not for commonsense reasons," he said.
"We haven't had a voice until now, but we'll be meet- ing with the RTA early next week to voice our problems."
Mr Dorey said when he bought his property in 1973, he never expected a highway would one day cut through it.
"The people who have properties near the original proposed route bought their properties near a highway," he said.
"We didn't buy land beside a highway and we paid for it accordingly. We bought our land for the views, peace, quiet and lifestyle."
Backing the new plan were Ian Cooke and Vince Gianatti, both of Newrybar, who fought for the coastal lowland to be included in the study area.
The men said putting the highway along the sugarcane flats would move it out of the Emigrant Creek Dam catchment area, protecting drinking water supplies.
Mr Cooke said he felt sorry for anyone that would be af- fected by the upgrade, but it was for the greater good.
"We live on a highway and the RTA bend over backwards to put noise and viewing restrictions in place," he said.
Investigations of route options within the expanded area will now begin and be placed on public exhibition. Community information sessions outlining details of the areas will be held next week.
Mr Roozendaal also said the existing community liaison group would be restructured to include residents in the ex- panded study area.
n The information sessions will be held on Wednesday, April 20, from 6.30pm at the Bangalow A&I Hall and on Thursday, April 21, from 6.30pm at Broken Head Hall.