ANOTHER day gone, another step closer to a safer Pacific Highway.
Development approval was announced yesterday for the Ewingsdale to Tintenbar Highway upgrade.
The $780 million project will ensure a dual-carriage highway between Ballina and the Queensland border.
The upgrade will give motorists 17 kilometres of four lanes between Ross Lane at Tintenbar and the existing Ewingsdale interchange by 2014.
Motorists can expect construction to begin in the first half of next year, after geotechnical work and property acquisitions take place.
About 80 property owners will be affected by the upgrade. Twenty-five have already reached a settlement with the RTA.
With the highway to cut through rural land, Planning Minister Tony Kelly said his department had placed 44 conditions on the highway approval to minimise the impact on land, including water catchments.
However, the approval was criticised by the group Water Catchers and Water Drinkers of Ballina Shire.
President Robert Deards said the chosen route would affect the Emigrant Creek Water Catchment.
“Some 30,000 citizens of Ballina Shire will wear the consequences of drinking water whose quality is significantly below the standards required by the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Kelly also visited Goonellabah yesterday to confirm the interest-free loan the State Government has given Lismore City Council, as reported in Thursday’s Northern Star.
The loan will fund sewerage infrastructure for 700 homes. A condition of the loan is the work is completed in 18 months.
Lismore mayor JennyDowell said she was confident the project would be completed on time.
“This will mean residential land in a prime location close to services will be developed in Lismore in a timely fashion,” she said.