COMMUNITIES along the Pacific Highway have a common message for the state and federal governments.
They have called for an agreement over the Pacific Highway funding so the much-needed upgrade can be finished.
The Port News spoke to truck drivers, motorists, parents, business representatives and highway residents during a road trip from Johns River in the south to Urunga in the north, and back to Port Macquarie.
The Pacific Highway between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour has 37km of four-lane divided highway; about 14km of four-lane divided highway under construction; about 26km being prepared for dual carriageway construction; and 79km of four-lane divided highway being planned.
Rosie’s Cafe and Gallery owner Lorrischka Fischer said the funding issue was something only the governments could solve.
“They have to get to grips with it and make it [highway duplication] happen,” Ms Fischer said from her Johns River cafe. Johns River was bypassed in 2010.
The latest highway report card shows the Pacific Highway has 346km of completed dual carriageway, about 60 kilometres under construction and about 121 kilometres with planning approval are being prepared for construction.
Planning is also progressing on the remaining single carriageway sections of highway.
Bruce and Norma Parker, aged 77 and 75 respectively, believe they won’t live to see the day when the Pacific Highway no longer runs in front of their Urunga home.
The couple vividly remembers a double fatality early this year.
“We jumped out of bed and we saw what the carnage was,” Mr Parker said.
He said now every time they heard a noise, they braced themselves.
“Just get it done,” Urunga Mylestom Chamber of Commerce president Stephen Allan said.
The state and federal governments will discuss the issue at meeting on Thursday.
Urunga tragedy still haunts
NO ONE will forget the circumstances of January 8 in a hurry, a mayor says.
A boy died when a truck ploughed through a house after a ute and the truck collided on the Pacific Highway at Urunga.
The ute driver also died.
Bellingen Shire mayor Mark Troy said those images remained with people for life.
“I think everyone who has lived in our region for any length of time would have a horror story to tell,” Cr Troy said.
The mayor wants a decision about the Pacific Highway upgrade’s funding and construction as soon as possible.
Bellingen Shire Council is a member of the Pacific Highway Taskforce.
“We need, the community needs and the people of NSW need a program of funding and a program of works,” Cr Troy said.
“If it is not going to be achieved by 2016, please tell us when it will be.”
He said anyone who lived nearby the highway had witnessed too much carnage.
About 300km of the highway remains undivided.
The accidents continued and the death toll would mount, Cr Troy said.
“You can count the fatalities but you can’t really count the the cost of the injuries people have to live with for life and also the trauma and distress to our volunteers .. emergency service personnel who are regularly called out,” he said.