A traffic nightmare at Sexton Hill

AS preparations gather momentum for Sunday's historic opening of the $543 million Tugun bypass there is mounting concern that the notorious Sexton Hill blackspot will become an even bigger traffic nightmare.

The Queensland Government has planned a major public party to mark completion of the Tugun bypass on Sunday, followed by its opening to traffic on Monday.

Workers have been putting the finishing touches to the seven-kilometre project, of which four kilometres are in NSW.

But the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) is still to finalise planning to overcome the Sexton Hill bottleneck at Banora Point, particularly on northbound lanes which face traffic lights.

Tweed Chamber of Commerce president Michael Tree yesterday said businesses, especially tourist operators, were gearing up to the challenge of attracting more Queenslanders heading south, but warned visitors may face a traffic nightmare heading north on their return.

"The NSW Government is no closer to doing anything with Sexton Hill," Mr Tree said.

"Hopefully southbound it will make no difference. The amount of traffic heading south is just going to get there faster.

"But I expect for weekend day-trippers coming back from a day in Byron on Sunday afternoon it will be unpleasant for all concerned."

Chief of the Community Highway Group Rod Bates, whose organisation has been pushing for an upgrade that serves both local and through traffic known as Option C, warned the increased traffic flow at Sexton Hill would lead to "more accidents which we don't want to see".

"All the merging traffic from Minjungbal Drive onto the highway is going to cause problems because traffic is going to come down the highway in one continuous stream," he said.

"Option C addressed that. Unless there's some special funding, we don't think there will be any action on either option B (the RTA's preferred proposal) or option C before 2010."

Tweed MP Geoff Provest said presently an average of 50,000 Queensland vehicles headed south into the Tweed a day and that was predicted to increase by 10 per cent with the opening of the bypass.

"The bottleneck will be here, well and truly," he said.

"We are experiencing enormous delays now in peak hours. That situation will intensify.

"If you live at Kingscliff and Cabarita and all those places, you have to go over Sexton Hill going north.It should have been fixed years ago."

A spokesperson for NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal was unavailable for comment.

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