'ILL-CONCEIVED, WASTEFUL': The Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass route.
'ILL-CONCEIVED, WASTEFUL': The Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass route. TREVOR VEALE

Lookout locations are the least of our bypass worries

FORMER deputy mayor Rod McKelvey is warning of dire consequences if the Coffs Harbour bypass is not planned and funded properly.

On the weekend he wrote to all Coffs Harbour City Councillors warning of a "worse nightmare than what we have now” if the project is not carried out properly in consultation with the community.

Starting with his take on the Roberts Hill Lookout concept, he had this to say.

"I believe the proposal to be ill-conceived, wasteful and an unnecessary thought-bubble.”

As many others have also pointed out, Sealy Lookout already boasts spectacular views and construction of a lookout at Roberts Hill could jeopardise the viable koala population there which is in itself a significant tourist drawcard.

Instead he urged councillors to look closely at what is being planned to ensure the bypass does not detrimentally change the amenity of Coffs Harbour forever and, like Cr Townley, he is concerned the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) may be considering cutting through the hillside west of town rather than constructing the three tunnels currently depicted on the RMS concept map.

Catchment Management authority Launch: Rod Mckelvey, chairman of the CMA.
Photo: Rob Wright / The Coffs Coast Advocate
TOO MUCH SILENCE: Rod McKelvey has written an open letter to councillors. Rob Wright

"Is the future of west Coffs to be a bypass hacked into its natural amphitheatre? I for one don't want us left with a visual eyesore, a noisy nightmare with deep, bare rock canyons blasted through the landscape with concrete noise walls which could be six to eight metres high lining much of the rest of the route in an effort to reduce noise.”

His suspicions have been heightened by what he sees as a lack of information from the RMS.

"An EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) was commissioned in 2016 so it would be well advanced by now but there has been too much silence and not enough talk, it just doesn't make sense,” he said.

"I can only imagine the worst case scenario is going to be cuttings and this would be a very bad outcome.”

In response to The Advocate's question on the issue, a spokesperson issued this reply:

"A final decision has not yet been made on whether the new highway crosses major ridge lines through cuttings or tunnels. RMS is currently finalising the environmental impact statement for the Coffs Harbour bypass project. We expect to display it to the community before the end of the year.”