WE are putting questions on the big issues to candidates running in the Port Macquarie-Hastings council election.
These are based on issues our readers have voted as being of most importance to our community.
We asked:What is your position on the Orbital Road investigation corridor? What is your position on the broader management of the LGA's road network and road maintenance program (Port Macquarie, Camden Haven, Wauchope)?
Here are their responses in the order groups/candidates appear on the ballot paper:
GROUP A - Fighters for Our Region: Lisa Intemann, Kingsley Searle, Stewart Cooper, Narelle Milligan, Paul Bradford
Regarding possible new road links, Team Intemann supports Council's full investigation of all options for new links and upgrade of existing roads. We want community engagement and social, environmental and economic factors fully considered in route selection, not just engineering aspects.
We support the urgent upgrade of Lake Road, but also endorse a second link as well as potentially a third from Houston Mitchell Drive.
We endorse the transport network priority list that council adopted in July in consultation with Transport for NSW. Many of the highest local priorities are NSW roads, not council managed - importantly the Oxley and Pacific Highways and Wrights and Lake Road intersections, as well as Houston Mitchell intersection with the Pacific Highway, and King Creek Rd with Oxley Highway.
The new council absolutely must develop better relations with local state members so as to progress work on those critical connections because our local network cannot function properly without them.
More work also needs to be done on the link between land use developments and the resulting pressure on infrastructure and the upgrades to infrastructure that is often required.
There also needs to be more focus on public transport options that can take traffic off our road infrastructure and reduce congestion.
We will work with the CEO and Council to identify which priorities could be fast tracked for immediate work or detailed planning, including a plan to secure necessary funding and resources.
It is vitally important to also focus on approved developments to identify the infrastructure that needs to be upgraded. Just one example of this is Lake Cathie/Bonny Hills where there are massive developments which underway, but too little attention to the road upgrades needed to accommodate the new population.
GROUP B - Hastings First: Nik James Lipovac, Kerry Fox, Linda Lenord, Michael Clarke and Justin Hardie
The Hastings First Group Ticket has heard all sides of the story relating to the pros and cons of the Orbital Road proposal.
Quite simply, we are against the construction of the original plans that were first put forward almost 40 years ago. Much development has taken place along and within the proposed route(s) in addition to the possible destruction/reduction of the koala corridor meaning it's no longer a viable option.
We are, however, keen to look at new bypass options that are tabled at future council meetings. In the meantime, we fully support the Ocean Drive duplication from Lake Cathie through to the Lake Rd intersection.
We would also support a proposal to construct four lanes (where it doesn't already exist) from the Lake Rd traffic lights intersection through to the Oxley Highway to improve traffic flow.
We support the State Member in funding the reconstruction of the Oxley Highway intersections/roundabouts at Wrights Rd and Lake Rd where peak hour bottlenecks are becoming a major problem.
The proposed construction of a "fly-over" above the Oxley Highway/Wrights Rd roundabout would greatly improve the flow of local traffic through that intersection for those who need to access the Hospital or the Lake Innes Shopping Centre, Bunnings and St Columba School.
We would fully support this significant project. We would also like to encourage businesses in the Industrial area that utilise heavy transport/semi-trailers to re-locate to a new site proposed at Sancrox along the Pacific Highway to reduce the number of these types of vehicles on our local roads.
In terms of the LGA's road network and maintenance program the public perception is we are falling behind so if we need more staff and equipment to keep up with the work required then let's implement this change.
GROUP C - The Greens:Lauren Edwards, Stuart Watson, Drusi Megget and Les Mitchell
The Greens reject the current proposals for the Orbital Road because of their social and environmental impacts which far outweigh the benefits for road transport.
We strongly believe that Council needs to rapidly upgrade existing roads such as Lake Road and Ocean Drive to relieve current traffic congestion in Port Macquarie. In addition, active transport opportunities including improved pathways, cycleways, public transport and promoting electric vehicle use should take precedence over new road routes. This is beneficial to the health of our community as well as contributing to reducing emissions in recognition that we are in a climate emergency.
Council needs to work more closely with Transport NSW to resolve traffic congestion problems on the Oxley Highway.
The recent NSW Government's proposals for improvements to traffic intersections and traffic flow at the Lake Road intersection are a start, but Council needs to work with the NSW Government to accelerate these works, to include better footpaths and cycle paths along the highway and call for further improvement including an additional lane for east bound traffic approaching the Lake Road intersection. Such advocacy also needs to apply to an overpass for Houston Mitchell Drive and improvements to the safety of the Oxley Highway/Kings Creek Road intersection.
The Greens would request a review of how Council's funds and resources are spent on roads across the whole LGA to ensure an equitable distribution based on road use and safety considerations.
We will ensure that a significant proportion of contributions from new residential and industrial developments are spent on infrastructure including roads in the areas affected.
Team Pinson will proactively move to take the current proposal for an Orbital Road off the table.
We will take a new approach to dealing with the road network issues left by extremely poor town planning over the last 20 years or more.
Existing road widening, link roads and new roads will be a feature of our forward plan and we will unlock the $340 million dollars of ratepayer funds that is stashed away in the cash reserves to help fund new and improved infrastructure.
One of the main reasons why Council has so much money stashed away in the cash reserves is from many years under-delivery of key and critical infrastructure. It is very clear that Team Pinson is the only team running for council that has the desire to fast-track delivery of an improved road network with an accompanying funding plan.
Dealing with the poor state of the roads and ridiculous traffic issues across our whole network is the number one priority for Team Pinson. We do not agree with demolishing more than 400 homes, severely impacting the racecourse, Radio Controlled Car Club, the Rifle Range, a dementia village or a critical nature reserve in aid of building a 'Billion dollar road' that will likely never be funded.
Sensible, sensitive and strategic network planning with minimal impacts on residents homes, local clubs or recreational spaces is what we will be working towards to deal with the road network mess left by years of poor strategic planning.
GROUP E - Team Sheppard: Rachel Sheppard, Greg Freeman, Linda Elbourne, Ethan Francis
Team Sheppard candidates are committed to sound governance and balanced decision-making that properly considers the needs of the whole community and future generations.
Most residents identify Port Macquarie traffic as a significant issue and want a solution. Many believe we need an Orbital Road. However, it's entirely reasonable that community members whose houses and lives are being affected by the proposal want it scrapped.
The good news for everyone is that council staff and councillors have evolved the Orbital Road Investigation into an integrated Transport Network Strategy, with Council collaborating with state government and TfNSW.
The Lake Road duplication, Ocean Drive Duplication, and Wrights Road intersection are all short term priorities under this integrated strategy, and it's quite likely that the traffic will be alleviated and an additional corridor won't be needed, regardless of who is elected.
This integrated strategy also gives us the best shot for joint-funded solutions for the wide reaching traffic infrastructure problems from Port Macquarie to Camden Haven, out into to the Hastings.
With councillors who will drive appropriate economic development for our villages, we can make a stronger argument for the strategic benefit of investing more fairly in transport infrastructure beyond Port Macquarie. Roads investment shouldn't rely on an economic argument, but it helps a lot.
Our region-wide approach won't be consolation for those community members whose houses are affected by the orbital road route currently 'on the table'. Fair enough.
These residents appear to be paying the costs of past poor governance, communications and lack of balanced (social, economic, environmental) strategic planning. However, Team Sheppard believe our approach is the best way to ensure this situation doesn't happen again, and to ensure transport solutions and balanced and consultative planning for our community for the short and long term.
In regards to the orbital road investigation corridor, the particular line which was put on the map in the 1980s is outdated and in my opinion will never be built.
We certainly need to investigate and designate future road corridors now, as our population continues to grow.
As far as the broader management of our LGA's road network and road maintenance program is concerned; we seem to be putting the cart before the horse with big developments continuing to go ahead and our road infrastructure not improving at all, especially through the Camden Haven, Wauchope and Beechwood at this time.
Our road network is under increased pressure and needs urgent attention.
Ocean Drive between Lake Cathie and Kew/Kendall has sections which are "nothing more than a goat track". As our population continues to expand to the south and west of Port Macquarie we need road improvements now.