Sexton Hill danger

THE Tugun bypass and Pacific Highway upgrade at Brunswick Heads will increase the risk of more serious accidents at Sexton Hill, NRMA president Alan Evans told the Daily News yesterday.

Mr Evans, speaking at the end of a three-day inspection drive along the North Coast section of the highway, said the summer holiday season would see many drivers on the North Coast unfamiliar with the highway improvements who could be lulled into a false sense of safety.

"There will be an increased risk of accidents, they will have to make adjustments in a short space of time to an inferior section of road," Mr Evans said. "When you build a great road, that's what can happen. You funnel the traffic somewhere else.

"That's why crashes happen,%people don't make adjustments for that."

He urged the NSW and federal governments to bring forward construction timetables to make the Pacific Highway a dual carriageway from Sydney to Brisbane by 2016, which currently schedules the Sexton Hill upgrade no earlier than 2009.

Mr Evans said it was vital not to forget that Sexton Hill tops the list of the NRMA's 190 worst accident "black spots" on the Pacific Highway, with 127 crashes from 2003 to 2006, including at least two fatalities and more than 60 injuries.

He said the RTA's preferred%option for Sexton Hill, with a viaduct bridge instead of a tunnel sought by the Banora Point Residents Association, ought to be supported, as it was the only option likely to get built.

"The tunnel may be a better option, but if it's a choice between no upgrade and the RTA upgrade, we'd obviously support something being done," Mr Evans said.

He said that although the state and federal governments had agreed to finish the Sydney-to-Brisbane dual carriageway by 2016, current funding allocations were still a long way short of the $1 billion a year needed to complete the dual road.

Mr Evans called for "dedicated bays" along the Pacific Highway for police patrols, to assist road%safety, and more roadside rest areas for truckies and motorists.

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