Battle on for road upgrade
By NADINE FISHER
"WE simply cannot afford to lose this fight.it's the biggest issue that the Tweed Chamber of Commerce has ever faced."
That is chamber president John Murray's assessment of his association's battle to enforce the community's preferred option C for the Banora Point upgrade, unveiled at a meeting yesterday morning.
While acknowledging the challenge that lies ahead, Mr Murray said businesses in South Tweed would choke and die if the upgrade was not done properly.
"Businesses in South Tweed face this peril and are unanimously on side in opposing the RTA's options A and B for the upgrade," Mr Murray said.
"One of the biggest issues we see is the need for an interchange - on and off ramps - at Kirkwood Road. It's just common sense and must be done immediately as a stand-alone project.
"It's vital that in pursuing the Banora Point upgrade the whole South Tweed area is taken into account looking at the big picture and a South Tweed traffic management plan. You can't just isolate the Sexton Hill upgrade without looking at the ramifications for the whole area."
Mr Murray said one of the chamber's proposals for option C included a tunnel which would go through Sexton Hill, while another looked at moving the interchange at the foot of Banora Point further south.
"The Kirkwood Road interchange would take the pressure off the commercial area of Tweed South and keep residential traffic separate from commercial traffic," he said.
"It would also balance the traffic flow into and out of Tweed City Shopping Centre."
Mr Murray said 75 per cent of the active members from the RTA's community liaison group said "No" to options A and B.
"We're putting the brakes on and calling on federal politicians not to release funds for the upgrade. The petitions are going through the roof and will be going to community access with council administrators.
"The RTA has failed to listen to the community, so we now have to ensure the community is taken into account for the future of the area."
RTA Community Liaison Group member Rod Bates said he believed the consultation process had failed and the residents of Tweed would be the significant losers in the whole process if options A and B were pursued.
"I'm bitterly disappointed that the liaison group hasn't had the input I expected and we're left to accept an option that is unsatisfactory to the community and ultimately the result of either of these proposals will be a traffic gridlock in South Tweed."
Tweed MP Neville Newell said he would be quite happy to look at any variation to the RTA's Banora Point upgrade options A and B. Mr Newell said if the proposal was feasible he may consider taking it to parliament.
An RTA spokesperson said the RTA has spoken with the Tweed Chamber of Commerce and will meet with representatives later this month to discuss the issue of Sexton Hill.
What the Tweed Chamber of Commerce wants
Full interchanges at Kirkwood Road - considered essential to alleviate heavy commercial traffic through Tweed Heads South. Immediate planning required.
Assessment still being done on Sexton Hill - three final options under consideration including moving the Banora Point interchange at the foot of the hill on the northern side further south and a tunnel through Sexton Hill.