Highway taskforce push for upgrade

WHILE the Pacific Highway continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons, the Pacific Highway Taskforce continues to push for a fast-tracking of the much needed upgrade to dual carriageway.

With a meeting scheduled in Grafton tomorrow, taskforce head Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson said it was both disappointing and frustrating the upgrade was still on the agenda almost 21 years after the Cowper bus tragedy.

While he remained hopeful, Cr Williamson said the current target date of completion by 2016 was now looking unrealistic.

“We will continue to lobby both state and federal governments for a safer highway,” said Cr Williamson, adding the taskforce had invited a number of sitting MPs to attend the meeting tomorrow to listen to the committee’s concerns.

“All state politicians who have electorates directly involving the highway have been invited, and so far two have accepted, including Andrew Fraser, Coffs Harbour MP, and a representative for Andrew Stoner, Don Page from Ballina, Shadow Minister for North Coast,” he said.

With a state election in March, Cr Williamson also said the taskforce was keen to hear the Opposition’s plans and policies.

“I am hopeful that whoever’s in government will deliver a dual carriageway,” he said.

“We are endeavouring to ensure the issue remains on the agenda.”

While Premier Kristina Keneally has not been officially invited on this occasion, Cr Williamson said she was still welcome to visit and discuss the situation at any time. Despite numerous requests over several months, Ms Keneally had still not accepted the invitation to tour the highway with the taskforce.

The committee will be discussing a number of items tomorrow, including the establishment of a Day of Remembrance for the families of victims and emergency services personnel.

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