John Alexander and Adam Cameron from the RMS at Gatelys Road on the hill looking over west Coffs today.
John Alexander and Adam Cameron from the RMS at Gatelys Road on the hill looking over west Coffs today. Trevor Veale

Not blind to bypass concerns: RMS team visits Coffs

AS CALLS to reinstate tunnels along the Coffs Harbour Bypass escalate, the RMS has moved to assure the community it is "not blind" to their concerns.

A senior project team met with the Advocate today to answer some key questions on the project.

Coffs bypass in planning: RMS Director Northern Region John Alexander gives the latest update on the Coffs Harbour bypass planning.

With tunnels considered virtually a done deal based on concept plans published on the RMS website until very recently, many residents say they feel deceived with the current plan, which includes large cuttings through the hills west of town.

Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight is among those who feels cheated and has called the new plan an 'el cheapo bypass'.

John Alexander, RMS Director Northern Region, said there were a number of issues when comparing tunnels and cuttings including costs (both of constructing and maintaining tunnels) and the movement of trucks with the possibility that some trucks carrying dangerous goods may be unable to use them.

"Cost is an issue and dangerous goods are part of it too, and these are all issues we will need to work through."

He was unable to say how many submission had been received to date with the consultation closing at the end of the month. Asked if tunnels would be reinstated if that was the overwhelming sentiment, he also couldn't say.

Adam Cameron, Senior Program Manager for the northern region has had a very long association with the Coffs Harbour bypass and was able to answer some key questions on the size of the cuttings.

He said the cuttings will be 'in the order of' 50 to 60 metres in depth and at Gatelys Rd the width of the cutting at the top will be 350 metres and at Shepherds Lane, 300 metres.

The team revealed that the EIS would be completed and shown to the public around the middle of next year and this would include the reports many have been calling on such as noise, flora and fauna and indigenous heritage impacts.

Once these reports are released along with the EIS a second round of consultation will take place. A three dimensional representation will also be released along with the EIS.

"The reports haven't been released yet for the simple reason they haven't been completed," Mr Cameron said.

Mr Cameron would not be drawn on moves by councillor Keith Rhoades to form a sub-comittee to fight the current proposal saying simply: "It's not really a question for us".

Mr Alexander said nobody had spoken to him about the move.

"Historically we have had a very good relationship with council and we want to make sure we maintain that as the process evolves."

With state and federal elections looming there have been accusations of political point scoring sometimes clouding the issue, as Mr Alexander alluded to:

"We have the political side coming into it at the moment with an interesting period coming up and we're getting the kind of comments that may not normally come into this," he said.