New Pacific Highway: trucks forced to continue in villages
CLARENCE Valley Council has called on the State and Federal governments to address a range of serious safety, access and cost issues related to the construction of the new Pacific Highway - particularly in regards to the Glenugie Eight Mile Lane Interchange upgrade.
Councillors were recently told the current design does not allow heavy vehicles to enter or exit the M1 from Glenugie, forcing b-doubles to continue to use the current highway between Tyndale and South Grafton to access Grafton, the Summerland Way and the Gwydir Highway.
Roads and Maritime has no plans to change the classification of the road or fund upgrade works despite Eight Mile Lane being an exit point.
Due to the alignment and width of Eight Mile Lane, it is not suitable for b-double trucks and extended use by trucks.
After a recent meeting with the RMS, Clarence Valley Council has taken up the cause and will lobby State and Federal governments for help to upgrade the road between the exit and existing highway.
At the Glenugie Eight Mile Lane Interchange Upgrade meeting organised by council at Ulmarra yesterday, residents questioned the point of the new motorway if heavy vehicles would be forced to continue to travel through the small villages of the Clarence Valley.
Residents had many concerns such as lack of communication from the RMS and many questioned the council as to why nothing was done sooner about Eight Mile Lane, with some asking: "Isn't it a bit too late?"
Another brought up the whole idea of the lack of safety in the design: "Wasn't the point of the new M1 to reduce deaths?"
Council's works and civil director Troy Anderson said the planned B-double route to and from Grafton would result in large numbers of b-doubles travelling along the existing Pacific Highway through Ulmarra and Tyndale.
"The communities of Tyndale and Ulmarra and all residences in between will still be subjected to significant b-double movements through their villages," he said.
"The residents in those areas have expressed concern about safety and noise."
Council last week agreed to lobby the Deputy Prime Minister as Minister For Infrastructure and Transport; the Federal Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government; the Member for Page; the NSW Premier; the NSW Minister for Roads; the NSW Minister for Local Government; and the Member for Clarence to have some proposed arrangements relating to the new highway addressed.
Mr Anderson said despite a motorway exit and entry being planned at Eight Mile Lane there are no plans to change its local road classification, leaving funding for maintenance and any upgrade works up to local ratepayers.
"From a road safety and capacity perspective, it is recommended this road is upgraded prior to the completion of the new Pacific Highway and that required works are funded by RMS not the Clarence Valley community."
Mr Anderson said that once the new highway was operational, RMS planned to change the classification of the existing highway between Tyndale and Maclean to that of a local road, which would leave Clarence Valley ratepayers responsible for the cost of its maintenance and any upgrades.
"A more logical extension would be to extend the Gwydir Highway through Grafton to Maclean so these two major centres are connected via a State road network," he said.
"The section of existing highway between Maclean and Tyndale is in poor condition and, being adjacent to the river for most of this section, has significant associated risks.
"A section of the existing highway has previously slipped into the river, causing major disruption and costly repairs. This overhanging burden should not be forced onto ratepayers of the Clarence Valley.
"These matters will create considerable cost shifting to council through necessary road upgrades and increased maintenance."
A Roads and Maritime Services spokesperson has said all vehicles travelling to and from the direction of Sydney will be able to use the Glenugie interchange via the south facing ramps.
The Spokesperson said only B-doubles travelling to or from the north will be restricted from using the interchange as Eight Mile Lane is not currently a designated B-double route.
"Roads and Maritime is considering this issue and intends to consult with the local transport industry on this matter to determine if changing Eight Mile Lane between the current highway and the interchange to a B-Double route would impact expected driver behaviour," the spokesperson said.