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Traffic hell in hill work

SOUTH Tweed is set for at least two years of traffic hell during the Sexton Hill upgrade while the RTA and Tweed Shire Council try and agree on how the Pacific Highway will work in 2025.

With construction set to start on the two-year, $300 million Sexton Hill upgrade in November, South Tweed business owners fear the congestion it will cause will turn customers away in droves.

A Business Focus Group (BFG) was created on Thursday night and it has immediately called for a Kirkwood Road highway interchange to be constructed before work starts on Sexton Hill.

“Our position is we want access through Kirkwood Road before they start building anything at the other end,” BFG committee member Idwall Richards said yesterday.

“That would alleviate hardship for a lot of small businesses.”

Tweed Shire Council director of engineering and operations Patrick Knight said the Kirkwood Road interchange was already a “high-priority” work and Council officers were “on the job”.

According to Mr Knight, the interchange is scheduled to be built in 2012 or 2013, but Council was waiting on the RTA to determine the footprint of the future six-lane Tweed Heads bypass freeway before planning could officially start.

“This configuration will determine the number and length of spans for the Kirkwood Drive overpass bridge and the footprint available for the Kirkwood Road to Kennedy Drive service roads and associated bridges so that the presence of these service roads will not inhibit the six lane-ing of the Tweed Heads bypass freeway scheduled for 2025,” he said.

“Consultants have been engaged to analyse options and recommend the future alignment/configuration/footprint of the six-lane Tweed Heads bypass and the associated service roads. This work will be completed in the first half of 2010.”

Mr Richards said yesterday neither Council nor the RTA know how the Sexton Hill upgrade would affect the South Tweed businesses.

“They haven't done an economic survey of South Tweed, so who would know?” Mr Richards said. “Once the motorway is complete, it will be like the Berlin Wall; it is going to be very hard to penetrate and it will isolate South Tweed in much the same way.”

The BFG will meet next week to elect a president and other office-bearers.

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