Fresh doubts cast on highway deadline
HAS the Federal Government made a promise it cannot keep?
Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese kept his language imprecise when quizzed about the 2016 deadline the Federal Government has set itself – after pressure from groups such as the NRMA – to fully upgrade the Pacific Highway.
However, when The Star reported Mr Albanese’s failure to guarantee a completed highway by 2016, Page MP Janelle Saffin jumped in and got the promise from him.
Well done Ms Saffin, but in light of the comments yesterday by NRMA president Wendy Machin, who said a big funding boost would be needed to complete the highway by 2016, it is time we had a detailed explanation of how the deadline will be met.
Ms Machin pointed out the start of the Ballina bypass was delayed 10 years. However, the bypass is being built on some of the deepest alluvial soils in Australia, which created an enormous engineering challenge for the highway designers.
How do we know some similarly diabolical engineering problem won’t put another section of the upgrade on hold?
What is needed now is a program of works for all remaining sections of Australia’s most dangerous stretch of bitumen, along with details of the cost of each section, and who will pay those costs.
Without that, the promise to fully upgrade the highway by 2016 is empty words.