Show me the money -- Provest's demand on Sexton Hill
WITH an expected $2.2 billion in the NSW budget for road improvements across the state, Tweed MP Geoff Provest thinks the Tweed deserves its share to fix the Sexton Hill black spot.
Especially considering the projected cost for the Banora Point Upgrade works has already been funded by the federal government as part of its Auslink program.
According to information Mr Provest has received, $210 million has been set aside for the much-needed road works, the same amount promised for the project by then federal opposition leader Kevin Rudd before the November 2007 election.
"If the money is already there then why the delay," Mr Provest asked.
"Auslink is a joint program between the federal and NSW budgets, now we (NSW) just need to come up with the rest."
According to costing done by proponents of the community preferred "option C" route, that would see a tunnel built under Sexton Hill costing between $210 to $220 million and the Roads and Traffic Authority-preferred "option B" that would see a 330-metre viaduct cut out from the hill, would cost between $140 and $160 million.
"There is already enough money from the federal government to build the RTA's preferred route and we (NSW) would only have to put in an extra $10 million to get the road that the people of the Tweed want."
Tweed Heads Chamber of Commerce president Michael Tree said the time was now to fix the problem before it got worse.
"With the completion of the Tugun Bypass the bottleneck is just going to be pushed back to Sexton Hill," he said.
"The Banora Point upgrade and works are essential because the Tweed is not going to stop growing."
Hospital, rail infrastructure, a new police station and more police, improved school and TAFE facilities and money to better plan for the future are on the budget wish list for the Tweed, according to Mr Provest and Mr Tree.
With an escalating skills shortage on the Tweed and across the border, both believe one of the planned 12 new TAFEs should be built on the Tweed, as part of the $735 million earmarked for education improvements.
Mr Provest wants to see the $250,000 promised before the last state election for a new Tweed area police station, and would like to see money for water police, drug squad and a mobile policing unit.
The reinstatement of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line would be a boon for the area, as would money set aside to investigate ways to link the Tweed to a planned light rail service that would eventually extend to Coolangatta.
With the Tweed's rapid population growth, especially in the Murwillumbah and Tweed Coast areas, the future of the Murwillumbah Hospital must also be secured.
"We need to better plan for the future," Mr Provest said.
"A couple of hundred thousands dollars now will save the state millions in the future, when the overstretched infrastructure we have will no longer be able to cope."