Feds' Sexton Hill sweetener

JOHN Howard will today announce a $2.4 billion spending spree to fix the Pacific Highway with Sexton Hill to be singled out as a priority by the Coalition. Late last night the Daily News learned that the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile were sitting on the massive funding announcement for projects along the Pacific Highway. The money will be spent on projects deemed to be "priorities" by the federal and state governments. The notorious Sexton Hill blackspot at Banora Point is believed to be near the top of that list. It is unclear as to how the $2.4 billion will be divided between these projects however it is known that the Coalition has placed a 2014 time limit on itself to spend the funds. Today's announcement will follow a $2 billion promise by Mr Howard last week to upgrade the Bruce Highway in Queensland if re-elected at the federal election, expected shortly. Peak motoring body the NRMA recently said Sexton Hill was one of the state's worst blackspots following a tour of the Pacific Highway, a claim that is backed up by stark statistics. The NRMA's data shows that between 1996 and 2005 there have been 127 crashes on Sexton Hill with two people killed and 61 injured on the horror stretch of road. The state government has committed to a multi-million dollar upgrade of the road at Sexton Hill in a bid to make it safer. Work on the upgrade is expected to start next year. However, the project model chosen for the upgrade by the state government and the RTA has drawn heavy criticism from local residents. Just last night community representatives renewed their campaign for the Sexton Hill tunnel option at a public meeting. Local resident's groups are seeking a review of the RTA's Option B, which has been given the green light over the community preferred Option C. Banora Point Ratepayers Association vice-president Ken Zealey said there were concerns the community was being railroaded into accepting an unsuitable option. Local residents, business and political representatives were among those to attend last night's meeting at Cudgen Leagues Club. The Sexton Hill upgrade is mooted for start next year.



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