New route for Bangalow Road sought
Calls are being made for a major upgrade of the road between Lismore and Bangalow following two fatalities on the road in less than 10 weeks.
Lismore City councillor Frank Swientek says the whole of Bangalow Road should be re-routed altogether as it has reached its use-by date, describing it as a death trap, archaic and meant only for horses and wagons and not modern vehicles.
Cr Swientek, who is campaigning for a new east-west corridor linking the upgraded Pacific Highway with Lismore, said all the attention had been given to the highway upgrade at the expense of the two main feeder roads into Lismore (Bangalow Road and the Bruxner Highway).
He said the state government as a matter of urgency should fund a new route to Bangalow from Lismore branching to north of Ballina from Nashua-Booyong.
The answer is a new (east-west) corridor running parallel to the railway with a major junction in the Booyong-Nashua area connecting into the highway at the interchange at Tintenbar. More traffic would use that road than going through a built-up area and it will take pressure off the other roads, Cr Swientek said.
Cr Swientek said that to achieve this in the long term, it was vital now for a highway interchange south of Bangalow to be built as part of the proposed upgrade of the Pacific Highway between Ewingsdale and Tintenbar, to avoid the notorious St Helena hill, a move backed by Byron Shire Council.
The plans for that upgrade are now on public exhibition till February 29 and Cr Swientek urged Lismore residents to make submissions for a southern interchange at Bangalow.
This is a better solution for Lismore and will enable us, in the long term, to connect into that interchange. Its pretty important to get that happening first, and not let the issue die, he said.
The two recent fatalities on Bangalow Road occurred on a 100-metre stretch near the Nashua turnoff, about three kilometres south-west of Bangalow.
Sarah Williams, 24, from Lismore, died after her car and a bus collided on the bridge over Wilson Creek on February 11, while Goonellabah man Dominic Merlo, 23, died on November 27 last year after his motorcycle and a truck collided.
Their deaths brought to five the number of people killed on the road since 2002. According to RTA figures, there have been 59 crashes involving injury between 2002 and 2006.
Cr Swientek said Bangalow Road was still the fastest route from Brisbane or the Gold Coast to Lismore.
There is a lot of heavy traffic using that road with now around 10,000 vehicle movements a day but by 2012 this will jump to around 12,000 vehicles, he said.
Also, the Pacific Highway was built as the north-south corridor between Sydney and Brisbane yet east-west traffic is much greater here than north-south traffic. There are 28,000 vehicles a day coming through Goonellabah alone.
The road is considered a black-spot area by local police, especially in wet conditions, and council workers often have to patch up dangerously large potholes after heavy rain.