Pacific highway upgrade valla beach . East west overpass..  12 April  2016.
Pacific highway upgrade valla beach . East west overpass.. 12 April 2016. Trevor Veale

Editorial - Saturday, July 23: Upgrade opening time to reflect

THE opening of the Nambucca Heads to Urunga section of the Pacific Hwy is a moment worthy of celebration.

But while we celebrate the opening of the 22km section of dual carriageway that will undoubtedly make driving in the region safer and travel times quicker, it must also be a time of remembrance.

There have been countless accidents near the Hungry Head Rd turnoff south of Urunga. Too many of these led to the loss of life.

It was a little more than four and a half years ago when an innocent 11 year-old boy asleep in a new holiday home his father had just bought tragically lost his life when a truck ran off the Pacific Hwy as it swerved to avoid a ute driven on the wrong side of the road by a man under the influence of alcohol.

A truck careering through homes brought howls of protest from the community that enough was enough and something needed to be done and quickly.

10 weeks after that accident, then Premier Barry O'Farrell and Minister for Roads Duncan Gay came to Urunga announcing it expected to award the contract later in 2012 to design and build that section of the said work was due to to begin in 2013.

The ceremonial first sods weren't turned until Andrew Fraser, Warren Truss and Luke Hartsuyker did so on January 15 in 2014. Two years after that tragic Urunga accident.

While politicians will argue over who was the more responsible for the funding of the new road, the fact is the families of those whose lives were lost on that terrible stretch of road don't care about political points scoring.

And neither should we. We should care about remembering those who sadly aren't able to drive along the newly upgraded stretch of Pacific Hwy.

BRAD GREENSHIELDS

Please click on the many related stories on this page which highlights only some the tragic road deaths the Coffs Coast Advocate has reported on from the Urunga region.