Project puts public at risk

THE progress of work on the Sapphire to Woolgoolga highway upgrade might have some people thinking about faster and safer commutes to work, but there are others who are worried about the opposite.

Specifically concerns are being raised about the serviceability of the service road, known as Solitary Islands Way, which will link the communities of the Northern Beaches.

While there appears to be plenty of support for a 60kmh speed limit to accommodate the expected rush of cyclists and pedestrians using the shared path being developed for Solitary Islands Way, the operator of the bus company that services the area can see a nightmare in the making.

The operations manager for Ryans Bus Service, Nigel Tooth, has written to Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) expressing concerns about the favoured limit.

He said the ability of the company to continue to transport close to 3000 children to more than 40 schools every school day will be compromised if a 60kmh speed zone comes into force on Solitary Islands Way.

Ryans also carries 30,000 public passengers a year between Coffs Harbour and Grafton, and argues a change to 60kmh will impact on them as well.

"If this were to be a permanent arrangement we would be unable to arrive at all schools on time," Mr Tooth wrote.

"Unfortunately we cannot alter our scheduled times to service schools as we perform multiple interchanges between Korora and Corindi Beach for children that attend schools between Bonville and Grafton.

In his letter Mr Tooth pointed out that the service road was being rebuilt to allow for a speed limit greater than 60kmh and that the incorporation of a shared pathway for cyclists would necessarily mean a dangerously narrow shoulder on one side of the road.

"Where are they (cars) to pull over in a breakdown or minor accident? Motorists' lives could be put at risk to ensure a cycle path can operate.

"I ask for a transparent community consultation process to be undertaken by RMS so that broader community input on this important proposal is obtained."