Pacific Highway upgrade rally at Urunga.
Pacific Highway upgrade rally at Urunga.

OPINION: Hwy funds in traffic jam

INFRASTRUCTURE NSW's suggestion the Pacific Highway upgrade is costing too much and the money being spent on it might be better spent closer to Sydney is just staggering.

The assertions made in the body's 20-year state infrastructure strategy, called "First things first", utterly fail to acknowledge the continuing death toll on the highway.

Two weeks ago, in lauding the Coalition's plan to dump the 2016 deadline and redirect Federal funds from a Sydney rail project to the highway, Northern Rivers NSW Business Chamber head John Murray noted "a person is killed every nine days on the Pacific Hwy".

That's 324 people who are likely to die on that road between now and the revised completion date of 2020.

Most of those deaths will happen on the unfunded Ballina to Woolgoolga and Port Macquarie to Urunga sections - the same sections Infrastructure NSW says don't carry enough traffic to justify the billions of dollars required to upgrade them.

Infrastructure NSW suggests the F3 to Raymond Terrace should be a higher priority for upgrading. It points out that stretch of road carries 40,000 vehicles per day compared to 10,000 up here.

Essentially, the F3's problem is traffic congestion. It's slow and frustrating for commuters.

Our problem, by contrast, is that our highway keeps killing and maiming us.

I don't know how the good folk of Infrastructure NSW see it, but I'd rather be stuck in traffic than dead or permanently injured.



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