Access to Eight Mile Lane from the Pacific Highway.
Access to Eight Mile Lane from the Pacific Highway. Roads and Maritime

Eight Miles of pain with highway upgrade

WHEN THE NEW Pacific Highway opens, b-doubles will not be able to exit at Glenugie due to the poor road conditions on Eight Mile Lane.

That is, unless Clarence Valley Council can successfully secure funds from the State or Federal Government to upgrade the road between the old and new highways.

At the council meeting on Tuesday night, councillors discussed bringing the road up to standard, but also the reclassification of what will be the old Pacific Highway between Grafton and Maclean to ensure it's a state road.

Due to the alignment and width of Eight Mile Lane, it currently can't handle any b-double trucks and may be unsuitable for extended use by any truck.

It it's current state, many trucking companies heading into Grafton, west down the Gwydir or onto the Summerland Way will need to get off the highway at Tyndale and drive the old route along the Clarence River.

As part of the highway upgrade, Roads and Maritime have advised that despite Eight Mile Lane being an exit point, they do not plan to change the classification of the road or fund any upgrade works.

The second part of the motion was to change the name of the highway between Grafton and Maclean to the Gwydir highway, which has caused concern among residents of communities along the Pacific Highway.

Council general manager Ashley Lindsay said the name change was the least of council's worries.

"We're lobbying here to have Eight Mile Lane upgraded so we take away those larger B-Double trucks from our smaller towns," he said. "The naming of the highway, that is a minor thing... the bigger issue for them is (getting trucks off the old highway), that is what they should be worried about."

Cr Richie Williamson said while some people in the community do not agree with council's decision to change the name of the road, it was more important to protect the human life and ensure b-doubles could use Eight Mile Lane.

"I think it's somewhat strange we have a gold-plated highway and it's very pleasing to see, however the idea of a B-Double truck accessing Casino or inland to the Gwydir or Summerland or our own trucking companies needing to get off at Tyndale and move through areas like Copwer and Ulmarra and Swan Creek, to a person in the street, it's a bit farcical."

Council are hoping the extension of the Gwydir Highway to Maclean will mean the road remains in the State Government hands and does not need to be funded by Clarence Valley ratepayers.

Council will n reach out to State and Federal government members for funding to reconstruct Eight Mile Lane between the existing Pacific Highway and the new highway to a standard that will allow the road to function as a B-Double route. They also hope to reclassify the reconstructed section of Eight Mile Lane as a state road.