Bypass tunnels a win for residents’ group
A RESIDENTS' lobby group of great impact - the Coffs Harbour Action Group - has applauded the inclusion of tunnels in the revised design of the 14km Pacific Highway upgrade.
The group was formed a year ago based on residents' concerns about noise pollution after the government released its initial bypass design incorporating two land bridges and a cutting.
The action group lobbied the Federal and State governments and Roads and Maritime Services to revise the plans and incorporate tunnels at Gatelys Rd, Shephards Lane and Roberts Hill.
On Saturday it was announced three tunnels will be built during the project, including a 190m tunnel at Roberts Hill, a 350m tunnel at Shephards Lane and a 450m design at Gatelys Rd.
CBAG spokesman Rod McKelvey said the action group was pleased to see the 10-page outline of the environmental impact statement, which the RMS will release in its entirety on Wednesday.
"We are thrilled that the RMS really has listened to the community on this matter and that the State and Federal governments have put the people of Coffs Harbour first when it comes to this bypass," Mr McKelvey said.
"We would like to thank the people of Coffs Harbour, the Coffs city council, the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council and our two new MPs, Gurmesh Singh and Pat Conaghan, for all working together for the best community result."
Mr McKelvey said the residents' group would need to wait for the full EIS report to be released before it could reach a final conclusion on the design.
Under the previous design, it was feared up to 900 properties in West Coffs could be devalued by noise emissions coming from the cut-and-cover tunnel designs and the cutting.
"We do note the statement in the briefing that says, 'The plans proposed in the EIS may evolve depending on several factors, including community feedback and the construction methodologies developed by the contractors once appointed' - and so we will be urging everyone who puts in a submission to include the need for a 'construct only' contract," Mr McKelvey said.
"We do not want to be placed in the position of Toowoomba, where a tunnel was part of their EIS but was replaced by a cutting due to a 'design and construct' contract.
"Once we see the detailed report we will be adding suggested submission points to our website which may help residents along various sections of the bypass highlight their concerns.
"Though we very much appear to be on track, we will not be disbanding this group until we have an absolute guarantee of the design."
The CBAG general meeting will be held this Thursday at The Cavanbah Centre at 6.30pm.