Locals: Pac Hwy upgrade should be fast-tracked after crash
THE Woodburn to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade should be fast-tracked according to concerned motorists who say the road is an 'embarrassment to the government'.
It is believed that it was John Wagner, 63, of Coraki, who was driving a cane truck north on the Pacific Highway just south of Broadwater when he collided head-on with a Toyota Rav 4, believed to have been driven by 24-year-old Ballina father of two, Matthew Byrne on Saturday about 2:30pm.
Both men were killed in the collision which saw both vehicles burst into flames.
The Australian flag of the Broadwater Sugar Mill is today flying at half-mast, as a tribute to Mr Wagner.
Former cane truck driver, Ron Reese, of Evans Head, said he could recall at least three serious crashes involving cane trucks on the Woodburn to Broadwater section of the highway since 2010, one he was involved in.
"Considering I had a head-on collision on the highway a couple of years ago, the upgrade is way overdue," he said.
"I knew one of the men who died."
Dave, a long-term Broadwater resident, said governments should be embarrassed.
"It's an embarrassment to the both the state and federal governments that the Pacific Highway goes down to 50km/h through towns," he said.
"It should have been fast tracked 20-years-ago."
The Pacific Highway upgrade between Woodburn and Ballina involves a 32 kilometre dual carriageway upgrade of the Pacific Highway.
The Woodburn to Ballina project includes grade-separated interchanges at Woodburn, Broadwater Evans Head Road and Coolgardie Road, Wardell.
The existing highway will be retained as a local service road for residents.
The upgrade bypasses Woodburn, Broadwater and Wardell.
Northbound and southbound rest areas for trucks and cars including a heavy vehicle inspection bay will be provided south of Old Bagotville Road.
Roads and Maritime Services are yet to advise whether the upgrade can be fast-tracked, or an expected completion date.
We asked you: Given the recent fatalities and crashes, do you think the Woodburn-Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade should be fast-tracked?
Ben Rolff, of Guyra: We pass through this section of the highway a lot and it's definitely very dangerous. The highway upgrade is way over due.
Martin Struder, of Brighton, Queensland: I've ridden along the highway a lot to see my parents in Woolgoolga. I think parts of the highway are getting better but the sections through Broadwater and Ulmurra are dangerous for both trucks and locals.
Dave of Broadwater: It's an embarrassment to the state and federal governments that the Pacific Highway goes down to 50km/h through towns. It should have been fast-tracked 20-years-ago.
Michael Forrest, of Broadwater: Yes. I'm an ex inter-state truck driver and its always been a bad section of road. I have lived on the highway for nine years and I have had a very bad truck and car crash outside my house.
Ron Reese, of Evans Head: Considering I had a head-on collision on the highway a couple of years ago, the upgrade is way over due. I knew one of the men who died on Saturday. Photo: Rodney Stevens/ The Northern Star