MAKE WAY: One of the farms off Gately's Rd where the bypass will go.
MAKE WAY: One of the farms off Gately's Rd where the bypass will go. TREVOR VEALE

Tunnel spin speeds up before tonight's bypass forum

MORE doubts have been raised over the government's commitment to tunnels for the Coffs Harbour bypass.

A letter from the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) from February 26 this year states tunnels are merely subject to "investigations” rather than definite.

Labor candidate for the Federal seat of Cowper Andrew Woodward has obtained a copy of the letter and says it's proof The National Party has again lied to the people of Coffs Harbour in declaring it is committed to building tunnels on the bypass.

Much hype was made of the apparent re-commitment to tunnels with Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro travelling to Coffs in January to announce the NSW Government will form a committee to progress the bypass, which will feature 'tunnels and other significant design improvements'.

The letter (from the RMS Director for Northern Region to Graham Stubington from the Coffs Bypass Action Group) also indicates the September concept design which was widely condemned, as it included large cuttings instead of tunnels, is merely "being reviewed”.

"How does this stack up against the statement by the Nationals on January 15 that the bypass will feature 'other significant design improvements'.

"The mismanagement, arrogance, spin and lies from the Nationals are out of control,” Mr Woodward said.

Deputy Leader of the National Party Bridget McKenzie has also cast doubt on the party's commitment to the project listing the bypass as just one of many regional projects under 'serious threat' due to increasing costs associated with border security. She was speaking in the Federal Senate on February 14.

The Coffs Harbour Bypass Action Group will host a forum for candidates in the upcoming federal election at the Cavanbah Centre at 7.15pm tonight.

Action group member Cheryl Cooper has confirmed that The Nationals' candidate Patrick Conaghan; Independent Rob Oakeshott; and Labor candidate Mr Woodward will all be there.

"They will put forward their views on the bypass and the funding for it - 80 per cent of which comes from the federal government,” Ms Cooper said.

"We believe it will be the first time they will be together.

"Though there is now much talk about tunnels - the definitions vary and one of the things we will be highlighting tonight is just how much of Coffs Harbour this project will affect and how, with no set design, any kind of cap on funding may be against the best interests of our town,” she said.

council bypass now banners grafton street  opposite show grounds. 22 FEB 2018
Coffs Harbour City Council is also keeping the pressure on. TREVOR VEALE