People power shines light at the end of the tunnel
IN a win for people power tunnels are back on the bypass drawing board.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro came to Coffs on Tuesday morning to announce the NSW Government will form a new committee to progress the bypass, which will feature 'tunnels and other significant design improvements'.
Mr Barilaro accused candidates in the upcoming federal and state elections of using the bypass as a political point scorer.
"Rather than bold slogans in the media we wanted to do the work in the background.
"It's vital we have community representation at every step of the way through this process which is why we are announcing today a Coffs Harbour Bypass Community Consultative Committee featuring an independent chairperson, Kathy Jones, to drive engagement."
Flanked by Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser and Nationals Candidate for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh they made no apology for the division caused due to the uncertainty and division in the community after it was revealed that large cuttings would replace tunnels.
"We're not sorry for the grief but now I am glad we can get the bypass Coffs needs. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. Even before I was a candidate - from the outset - I've been working to get the best outcome for the community," Mr Singh explained.
"Tunnel lengths will be suitable for all vehicles and now we will have a locally represented Committee to deliver this fantastic project to the community," he added.
Mr Fraser backed this saying: "From day one Gurmesh has been in my ear about it."
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey thanked the community for their feedback so far.
"We need to get the best result for the community, which is why the Consultative Committee will now recruit local community members to drive community engagement so we can get solutions like low noise pavement and vegetated noise mounds or barriers to reduce noise and visual impacts."
Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser said recent consultation generated more than 700 pieces of correspondence and comments on the interactive map.
"The NSW Nationals and Liberals Government is serious about delivering this bypass and we will put in our fair share of funding and hard work to get the solution right," Mr Fraser said.
Details on joining the committee and membership criteria will be available on the RMS website on Monday January 21. Construction of the bypass is set to start in 2020.
Kathy Jones Biography
Kathy Jones is the Executive Chair of KJA, a specialist communication and engagement company.
She has worked with governments, CEOs and the community on a number of high profile transport and infrastructure projects in both NSW and Victoria as well as significant infrastructure policy projects.
She is a skilled facilitator and has extensive experience with CCCs.
Ms Jones is a Board Director of both the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering and new Democracy Foundation - an independent research and development organisation that aims to restore trust in public decision making.