Three years ago, fed up with the crashes taking lives on the Princes Highway south of Nowra, the Australian Community Media news outlets on the NSW South Coast launched a campaign under the banner FIX IT NOW.
We'd had a steaming gutful of the political buck-passing between the NSW and federal governments over who had responsibility for Highway 1 and, knowing state and federal elections were looming, took off the gloves.
The campaign succeeded. At the South Coast Register, we were visited by a stream of politicians. Malcolm Turnbull, Anthony Albanese, Gladys Berejiklian, Melinda Pavey, Scott Morrison - they all came knocking.
And pretty soon, they returned with bucketloads of commitments to get the highway fixed.
While our campaign was called FIX IT NOW, we all knew highways aren't fixed in a day. Heck, they took decades to fix the Pacific Highway and around Coffs Harbour, they're still at it. I remember having a chat to an Ulladulla businessman who said: "Love what you're doing but you know we won't see a bypass in our lifetime, don't you?"
Well, we've seen movement - and an almighty row.
The NSW Government has drawn up plans for a bypass around Milton and Ulladulla which have divided the community. One one side are the people of satellite towns Burrill Lake and Lake Tabourie further south who want the route changed so they are bypassed as well.
On the other side are those who don't want work delayed as an alternative route is devised. Suddenly, the pipe dream is in the pipeline and everyone wants their viewpoint heard.
In the Eurobodalla Shire, where a new bridge over the Clyde at Batemans Bay is set to open within weeks, attention is turning to a bypass promised for Moruya.
The community there wants the new infrastructure, particularly the planned bridge over the Moruya River, to incorporate some design elements to reflect the district's history and culture.
It's a decent point. Moruya played a huge role in the construction of our most famous bridge. The town supplied the granite for the pylons that bookend the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
And in Nowra, where work has begun on a new bridge over the Shoalhaven River, there is loud discussion about finally getting on with a bypass there. Upgrades to the highway north of the town and cuts to travelling time have brought the South Coast so much closer to Sydney but Nowra is the chokepoint, with multiple sets of lights and roundabouts. On holiday weekends, it becomes a car park. Outside Sydney, the Shoalhaven is the most visited place in NSW.
For locals, a bypass can't come quick enough.
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