Voters urged to maintain the Pacific Highway rage
By MARY MANN
ABOUT one billion dollars each year until 2016.
It is a large sum, but Wendy Machin says it is a small price to pay for something as valuable as a dual-carriageway divided Pacific Highway from Newcastle to the Queensland border.
The NRMA Motoring director yesterday met Cr Phillip Silver, acting chairman of the Pacific Highway taskforce, who is also the mayor of Ballina, to discuss the importance of keeping the highway upgrade on the political agenda in the lead-up to the State election on March 24.
The 10-year $2.2 billion highway upgrade program commenced in 1996, and is being jointly funded by the NSW and Federal governments.
However, Ms Machin said there was no money allocated by the State or Federal governments for further improvement works on the highway after 2009.
"This needs to be addressed now," she said.
"We need all election candidates to make upgrading the highway a priority and we urge all voters to remember the roads on election day."
Ms Machin said the Pacific Highway was a critical road and that the large number of deaths and injuries on the Far North Coast stretch were unacceptable.
"Our recent Pacific Highway audit shows there were 753 crashes over the past three years on the highway from Coffs Harbour to Ballina," she said.
"Communities are suffering because they are not getting the highway they deserve."
The NRMA audit identified 191 'black' lengths of road along the highway, with the stretches through Ballina, Ewingsdale, Ocean Shores and Brunswick Heads amongst the five worst.
Three-quarters of the highway from Harwood to Brunswick Heads is still to be upgraded to an acceptable standard, it re- vealed.
Cr Silver called on all political parties 'up and down the coast' to tell their communities what their funding programs were for the Pacific High- way upgrade.