RTA to call bypass tenders

By Dave Fawkner

dave@echonews.com

The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority could call tenders for the construction of the Alstonville bypass as early as next month, following the release of $13.6 million for the project in last weeks federal budget.

But the long-awaited announcement was not without its dramas, according to Alstonville Bypass Action Group member Marilyn Perkins.

When we heard that only $13.6m had been allocated we thought wed been dudded again, Mrs Perkins said. Its since been made clear to us by the government and the RTA that this money is to allow tenders to be called and work to begin.

We have been assured that the remainder of the funding will be provided through the AusLink 2 program in 2009/10.

Mrs Perkins said while the Alstonville Bypass Action Group was delighted with the announcement they still had concerns about the time it had taken and what they were likely to get for their money.

When this was proposed around 1998 the cost was estimated to be $22m, when the minister signed off on it in 2001 it had risen to $36m and now, seven years later, it has reached $90m, she said.

What well get for that is essentially a 5.4km two-lane road, possibly with footpaths and a cycleway, but thats not clear.

We were also worried that the whole thing would have to go through the Environmental Impact Statement process again because it has been so long since it was written. However, there is no sunset clause attached to the EIS and I believe the RTA will merely carry out a review of the existing document.

Work on the bypass is expected to start before the end of this year and take 18 months to complete.

Confirming that the RTA was about to call tenders for the bypass, Page MP Janelle Saffin said the government was honouring an election commitment.

Weve released some of that $90m commitment early because we regard the Alstonville bypass as a significant and long overdue road project, Ms Saffin said. We want work to begin as soon as possible and I cant foresee any impediments to tenders being called and work starting to in the 2008/09 financial year.

Ms Saffin congratulated the Alstonville Bypass Action Group for keeping the project in the public eye for many years.

When completed, the bypass will be of benefit to all Alstonville plateau residents as well as commuters who travel between Lismore and the coast, she said.


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