“We welcome the news from both Gurmesh Singh (pictured at the bottom of this article) and Michael McCormack, on his recent visit, that the EIS will include tunnels, a lower grade line and a quiet road surface.”
By Rod McKelvey
“It is great that both our MPs are working hard for the community and we are hoping the EIS will be the highly detailed plan we need, showing exactly how this project will be built, rather than the outline that was last September’s concept plan, especially given the time that has been taken to create it.
“We are somewhat perplexed by Michael McCormack’s comments. He seemed to suggest that the $971m set aside by the Federal Government was based on cuttings, however our understanding is that conversations ongoing with council at that time (May 2018) still included tunnels. The community were also expecting tunnels until shocked by the cuttings in the Preferred Concept Design released in September 2018”. How did they decide on this amount without detailed plans?
“We would also like to applaud Dr Sally Townley’s efforts to obtain the business case for this project which would help to solve the riddle of why cuttings were included in the first place. Were they designing to the dollars as opposed to finding the dollars for the right design?
Continuing negotiations through the courts are bringing this information closer to hand but the RMS’ continued stalling and lack of transparency makes us highly suspicious of the process and wondering if the EIS will indeed become reality for the people of Coffs Harbour and when? We note that the entire business plan for Westconnex is available online for all to see, but not our comparatively small project.
“We are certainly talking to our MPs about a “Construct only” tender, as opposed to a “Design and Construct”. “The people of Toowoomba thought they were getting a tunnel but due to the design and construct style contract they have a very ugly concrete cutting.
This “design and construct” contract tendering seems to becoming more popular across a lot of areas with the feeling that it is faster and cheaper, however revelations that some of the buildings that people have been evacuated from in Sydney were built using that method have us concerned. We need to ensure that the contract for our bypass is watertight and that the successful builder cannot build anything than that specified in the tender.
“The EIS should be highly detailed and we are also looking forward to seeing how the interchanges have developed, based on the feedback from hundreds of Coffs Harbour residents during the submissions’ process late last year. The Englands Road interchange needed a redesign as it fed all heavy vehicles onto the existing Pacific Highway which is unworkable for any B-Doubles wanting to enter Isles Drive from the south because that would necessitate an illegal turn.
We understand the Coramba Interchange could be achieved with a much smaller footprint, assisting residents of Roselands Estate and the Korora Interchange included traffic lights to enter the on ramp for those heading north out of town – a peak hour nightmare.
Unfortunately, the machinations of the last 18 months have caused a complete loss of trust. It should not have taken the actions of our two new local members, the local council, the Aboriginal Land Council and community groups like ourselves to get to this point.
Given this will be the people of Coffs Harbour’s last opportunity to comment on this project, we are very much looking forward to sufficient detail to enable us to see with confidence what we are getting.
This should then be backed up by a construct only contract such that we have certainty that what has been designed will actually be built.