Road revamp ‘unlikely’ to hit deadline
NRMA Motoring and Services president Wendy Machin has warned that upgrades to the Pacific Highway will only be finished by 2016 if there is a significant boost in funding.
Ms Machin was in Ballina yesterday to release the NRMA’s progress report on the highway.
She said making the highway dual carriageway had to be done ‘as soon as possible’.
After some controversy about the project’s timeframe, Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese told The Northern Star last month that his Government was ‘fully committed’ to upgrading the highway from Brisbane to Melbourne by 2016.
However, Ms Machin said it was ‘unlikely’ that timeframe was possible without ‘accelerated funding’.
“I have to be realistic about it,” she said.
“The 2016 deadline is achievable, we believe, but there needs to be more funding. We really want to take this opportunity to encourage State and Federal governments to put more money into the project.
“People are dying on our roads when they probably wouldn’t if the roads were better.”
Ms Machin said having the Pacific Highway as a dual carriageway would ‘almost eliminate’ the possibility of head-on crashes.
But she said there was still a need to continue with safety and educational campaigns.
The NRMA’s report card on the Pacific Highway highlights that ‘only 50 per cent of the route has been upgraded, despite $3.5 billion in State and Commonwealth investment since 1989’.
Ms Machin also said the Ballina bypass, due to be completed by the end of 2012, was the State’s ‘most delayed’ road project.
“It is 10 years overdue,” she said.
“The report found of the projects for which full data is available, almost seven-in-10 Pacific Highway upgrade projects finished late, meaning the Federal and NSW governments will need to ensure no time is wasted between now and 2016 if the Pacific Highway is to become dual carriageway.
“We just have to keep going with this.”