Divisive interchange plan on hold
IT’S THE $5 million road plan that has infuriated Bangalow residents.
Now the controversial interchange, that is planned as part of the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale section of the Pacific Highway upgrade, has been put on hold until residents get another say.
Local resident Ian Hay said the Minister for the North Coast, Ballina MP Don Page, had agreed to suspend further progress by the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority on the interchange, near the Bangalow Bowling Club, until there was more consultation with the community.
Mr Page confirmed the interchange was on hold while a date was set for a consultation with the community.
He said halting of the RTA project was an election promise that was being fulfilled and the government would re-examine the need for the interchange.
In a petition containing 1015 signatures, tabled in the NSW Parliament by Mr Page last year and supported by the Byron Shire Council, residents claimed the proposed interchange would:
- Contravene the RTA’s highway design guidelines since the proposed interchange was about 5km from the Ewingsdale Interchange, whereas RTA guidelines require 10km separation;
- Require a floodlit roundabout at the same level as the existing highway, visible to most of Bangalow’s residents night and day;
- Increase air and noise pollution across Bangalow because of increased traffic movements caused by traffic entering and exiting the upgraded highway;
- Encourage heavy vehicles from Lismore to travel through Bangalow to access the upgraded highway travelling south, thereby reducing road safety;
- Require all traffic, including heavy vehicles, entering or exiting the proposed roundabout at Bangalow to negotiate a series of tight bends, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
Bangalow Chamber of Commerce president Michael Malloy said: “Residents have thought from day one it was bad move. I have yet to find anyone in favour of it.”
He said Mr Page had been responsive to what residents were saying.
Mr Hay said: “The RTA’s proposed interchange would simply force southbound heavy vehicles, banned from using the tunnel because of their loads, on to Bangalow Rd. And the road is simply not designed to handle that level of traffic.”
“In fact, the RTA’s planned interchange delivers a far worse outcome than we have at present.
"At least our current highway doesn’t allow for heavy vehicles to routinely travel along Bangalow Rd.
“No interchange saves millions of dollars, avoids mixing highway traffic with local traffic, avoids clogging local roads and gives a better result.
"Diverted traffic from the tunnel continues along the Old Pacific Highway to rejoin the new highway at Ewingsdale Interchange (if heading north) or at Ross Lane interchange (if heading south).”