HEAVY TRAFFIC: Included in yesterday?s 15km/h convoy from St Helena to Ballina along the Pacific Highway were 18 tractors.
HEAVY TRAFFIC: Included in yesterday?s 15km/h convoy from St Helena to Ballina along the Pacific Highway were 18 tractors.

You?re a liar,

By RENEE REDMOND and SAMANTHA TURNBULL

OVERWHELMED by tears, Gayle Moore watched as her husband yelled abuse at one of the people they hold responsible for destroying their home.

Her husband, Peter, charged the stage and yelled abuse at RTA Pacific Highway general manager Bob Higgins during a fiery meeting at the Missingham Bridge in Ballina yesterday.

More than 17,800 submissions on the upgrade were handed over at the meeting.

Two days earlier the Moores were told by the RTA the preferred Woodburn-to-Ballina Pacific Highway route would go through the middle of the family home, despite the property being outside the initial study area.

It highlighted the growing distrust among residents along the upgrade route over whether the Roads and Traffic Authority can be trusted.

Yesterday Mr Higgins was addressing a crowd of about 100 protestors who had participated in the two-and-a-half hour 'go slow' protest from St Helena to Ballina on the Pacific Highway.

Amid catcalls and yelling he had finished saying the RTA had taken all submissions into consideration for the Wardell-to-Ballina upgrade when he was interrupted by Mr Moore.

"Bullshit, you're a liar, Higgins," Mr Moore screamed from the edge of the stage.

Protest organiser Jack Harper moved to placate Mr Moore, saying he should 'show some respect or leave'.

Mr Moore took to the stage.

"We want respect. We're a bit further than you (Mr Harper) in this process and we know things do change," Mr Moore said.

He then walked back down the steps. A number of other protestors went up and comforted the forlorn Wardell resident and his distraught wife.

St Helena farmer Gary Jarrett, who joined the 'go slow' protest with his family's horses and cattle trucks, agreed the RTA could not be trusted.

"I hope the politicians will take some notice of us," he said.

"We've lived on the same farm for five generations and we don't want to see a road going through it," he said.

At the same time, Newrybar resident Tony Gilding said he was amazed by the rush for planning when no construction had begun.

"We need safety upgrades now. We don't want a tollway, we want interstate freight moved back to the New England and an investigation into an inland route," he said.

After the presentation Mr Higgins said he was not a liar and had his own integrity.

He said he understood how people affected by the decision onthe Woodburn-toBallina route were emotional.

"Now that we've chosen a preferred route we'll talk to individuals and work through it," he said.

"There's no perfect answer. It's about balance, looking at all the issues and doing some modifications of the route.

"We're always going to impact on land owners, but we want to sit down with them and work out a way to lessen the impact."

Mr Higgins said the submissions collected yesterday were an important component for analysis.

Mark Graham, of the Blackwall Highway Action Group, said in the decision of Wardell-to-Ballina the least preferable option has been chosen.

"The option announced as the NSW Government's pre- ferred route for the highway is the one with near to no public support," he said.

"It's not an acceptable outcome. We need to keep the pressure on the agency, which really is an agency out of control."

n Meanwhile, numbers were down on expectations for the highway protest at Harwood Bridge after the storm which hit Maclean on Thursday afternoon.

Protest organisers, however, were happy with the amount of vocal supporters the rally attracted.

More than 50 Harwood residents were at the rally to show their disgust and anger at the RTA's proposals for the Pacific Highway upgrade.

Displaying placards such as 'Leave our Harwood alone' and 'No way motor way', residents made their feelings known about being left out of highway discussions by the RTA.

One concerned Harwood resident said she was protesting because she felt the RTA had abandoned Harwood.

"We were horrified by the route options," she said.

"The RTA didn't bother to gather any local knowledge, and now people who were born in their house in the main street, who are now pensioners, have to relocate.

"Where are they going to go? It's just not fair."

Harwood resident of 63 years, Janice Law, said townspeople were devastated by the options.

"They (RTA) just don't listen. We don't want our town cut in half with such a monstrosity," she said.

Protest organiser Phil Hazell said the RTA should drop all thoughts of a new highway and upgrade the existing alignment to make it safer for all highway users.

What do you think?

Phone the Star Feedback line on 6624 3266 or email opin- ions@northernstar.com.au



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