MINISTER Tripodi, centre, with Abi project director Paul Wallbridge, left, and RTA project manager Peter Borrelli.
MINISTER Tripodi, centre, with Abi project director Paul Wallbridge, left, and RTA project manager Peter Borrelli.

Road delay a $500m brake on real estate

By SAMANTHA TURNBULL

STATE Roads Minister Joe Tripodi yesterday drove right by some of the 6000 Northern Rivers properties forced into financial limbo by Pacific Highway upgrade plans.

Local real estate agents estimate almost $500 million has been stripped from the property market between Woodburn and Ewingsdale, as residents wait to hear if they will lose their homes to the Roads and Traffic Authority's upgraded highway routes.

However, Mr Tripodi, who was yesterday inspecting the Brunswick Heads-to-Yelgun upgrade, said he was unaware of the real estate crisis.

"I haven't heard that, but generally speaking whenever the State Government delivers infrastructure in NSW, prices go up," he said.

"It normally benefits communities and people who own homes."

He said there was nothing he could do to fast-track the process of choosing definite routes between Woodburn and Ewingsdale to put property owners at ease.

"I'm sure the RTA is consulting with the local community as much as possible and getting as much information as they can," he said.

"But obviously, with any new road, there is some uncertainty. It's part of the consultation process."

Community Alliance for Road Sustainability (CARS) spokesman Rex Harris yesterday released a statement saying he was disappointed Mr Tripodi visited the region without meeting property owners affected by the proposed upgrade.

"We invite Mr Tripodi to again visit to discuss issues with local communities," he said.

"The proposed current Pacific Highway upgrade program will have major impacts, especially on the North Coast."

Mr Tripodi also responded to Northern Rivers councils and NRMA calls for the Pacific Highway to be made entirely dual carriageway within 10 years.

"That all depends on how we progress the project. We're currently negotiating with the Federal Government, and if it comes along with a lot more money we'll be more likely to achieve that target," he said.

The entire upgrade is currently due for completion in 25 years.

What do you think? Phone the Star Feedback line on 6624 3266 or email opin- ions@northernstar.com.au



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