Residents mutiny over highway upgrade
By RACHEL SCOLLAY
"SECRET Newrybar business" was the catch-cry as everyone wearing a yellow ribbon round their wrist headed outside.
These were the people who woke up last week to find their properties were also under threat as far as a possible route for the Tintenbar-toEwingsdale Pacific Highway upgrade.
And they had come to last night's RTA informational meeting in Bangalow looking for answers.
One-hundred-and-fifty residents had already met at Newrybar Hall the night before to workshop their questions, said Les Einhorn from the newly-formed Coastal Escarpment Protection Society.
"More workshops were just a waste of time," he said.
All of a sudden the RTA had a mutiny on its hands as the group threatened a mass walk-out if question time was not brought forward.
The predominant concern amongst the 120 people there seemed to be: Why extend the study area?
Project development manager Shane Higgins said it was because of community feedback on the original study area. He said a route would be selected by the middle of 2006 to give certainty to everyone.
"As soon as we announce a study area everyone in it is affected," he said.
"The longer it takes, the longer these people are in limbo."
Bill Wheatley, of Old Byron Bay Road, said it was un- fair to include properties that were not immediately adjacent to the current highway.
"That's the area zoned for upgrading the road," he said.
"Why bother the rest of us?"
RTA senior project development manager Mark Eastwood said things had changed since that zoning had been put in place because the highway might have to be upgraded to six lanes in the future.
John Crump, of CEPS, said the issue of the new versus old study areas, had the potential to cause a serious community rift.
"We should be trying to avoid the idea of us and them, it's totally counter-productive.
"I would like to see a community approach to a ridicu- lous proposition by the RTA."