Local, Opinion/Comment

“Potential tunnels for our by-pass? That’s not good enough!”

Coffs Harbour pay attention: Don’t get carried away by the announcement that we’ve finally gotten some of the money for the By-Pass, the plan still says “potential tunnels”. That’s NOT good enough!

By Rod McKelvey

The Federal & NSW Governments & the RMS must to commit to building tunnels on the Coffs By-Pass not visually hideous, noisy canyons. Otherwise by the RMS’s own admission 10,000 residents will be living with the nightmare of the noise reverberating off 80/90m high rock canyons when tunnels would give be far, far better, especially if they pay attention to the design of the portals.

The rock canyons will also disrupt vital east/west ridge line fauna corridors from/to a coastal hot spot for species like Koala, which will be critical for their survival as the climate changes. The drainage lines preferred as fauna crossings by the RMS because they’re cheap, will simply be inadequate.

Canyons are also highly disrespectful of the cultural significance of our Traditional Custodians overland trails and trading routes between Diggers Beach & Mt Coramba, the Jetty Area & Roberts Hill & Mt Coramba, the Orara Valley & places beyond.

C’mon RMS stop being so awful and do the right thing by Coffs Harbour and not leave us with a barren noisy eyesore like the Sapphire to Woolgoolga Pacific Highway Upgrade without any proper elevated wildlife crossings as planned, but sneakily removed by a late amendment.

Share on Facebook, Twitter and write to your local member they have to build tunnels otherwise if Coffs Harbour residents don’t wake up they won’t get any sleep.

Originally published by Rod McKelvey, Former Deputy Mayor of Coffs Harbour.  Reprinted with permission.

 

10 Comments

  1. Robert Cox

    Well said Rod. This is one of the few times when we really want the authorities and our civic leaders to have “tunnel vision”.

  2. Ashley Love

    Rod deserves wide community support in this push from local residents who will suffer from the noise and from those concerned about giving a chance to our local environment, particularly for our Coffs Harbour koala population which is already under tremendous pressure and in decline.

  3. Archie Black

    During the consultation period ( held at Cavanbah Centre ) I asked about the planned “Ring Road”, (only to be corrected by a person working with the RMS that it was a “By Pass”) if tunnels or cuttings would be included through Roberts Hill and Korora, The vague answer that tunnels are more expensive and if cuttings were utilised, there would be plenty of fill extracted to be used elsewhere in the construction.
    So, it seems to me that the RMS want cuttings over tunnels, therefore we as a community must be loudly calling for TUNNELS as was done at St.Helena (Byron Bay) which works well.
    Coffs residents west of the existing Pacific Highway will be very angry if we get cuttings, hearing the trucks all night long with their exhaust brakes roaring through the neighbourhoods.
    While the highway upgrades are good for us, they are even better for the trucking industry who now comprise the majority of users on the Pacific Highway.
    Most agree that the by pass should have gone further west through the Orara Way from Grafton to Bonville, it is not going to happen, so we must get the best of what is now on the drawing board.
    We must get a clear answer from the RMS before construction starts, Tunnels or Cuttings ?

  4. Rikki Bekker

    Well said Rod and a big LOL Rob Cox.
    I agree with both Ashley and Archie too. This issue needs to be brought to the fore and hard questions asked of our State and Federal members and all opposition candidates too what with both federal and State elections ‘just around the corner’. Lets make it a big issue locally in those elections.
    As Archie said moving further west is not going to happen so now we need to do what the citizens around Byron Bay did for the St Helena tunnels and let it be known that cuttings are not acceptable. Properly designed tunnels only for the Coffs Harbour by-pass are the minimum.

    So Luke? So Andrew? What do you say on this issue?

  5. For those who are uninformed or cant be bothered researching, dangerous goods are not permitted through tunnels – note Coolangatta Airport Tunnel and St Helena tunnel behind Byron Bay . So answer this question; would you rather a cutting, or dangerous goods to continue to plow through your town centre?

  6. Archie Black

    Fred, do you know how many ( few Dangerous Goods ) vehicles do not go through the St.Helena Tunnel or similar ? As far as I can research, very few, so what you are saying is that because of only a handful of vehicles that cannot legally go through a tunnel, the vast majority of people are going to suffer the imposition of a cutting and all of its associated noise ?

  7. the counter

    Some interesting comments have been made on this issue. Heavy vehicles are a vital part of the transport system and,on a whole, those to drive these ‘trucks’ are more skilled than the average motorist. But the percentage of vehicles moving ‘dangerous goods’ was unknown to me.
    Research was needed. A quiet stretch of the highway, with no alternative route, was chosen. Three factors were to be considered:
    1. visible signage – i.e. Chemical Company
    2. shape of container – i.e. petrol; tanker
    3. presence of warning signs i.e. HazChem

    Over two days a count was taken. It was on the same stretch of highway and for the same length of time but not at the same time. Day 1 saw 103 vehicles go by of which four were classified as dangerous and on day 2 82 went by and again four were deemed dangerous- Norco Milk failed the shape of container criterion but this is not a dangerous product.
    So 8 out of 185 were deemed (by me) to be carrying ‘ dangerous goods’. It makes sense to have a tunnel (for the reasons others had stated). A tunnel capable of taking over 90% of the heavy vehicles out of the city centre.
    I thank Fred for suggesting research was needed.

  8. Rod McKelvey

    Since 2002 when the 28.6k Yelgun to Chinderah Pacific Highway Upgrade opened to traffic I didn’t need to research to realise everyone, dangerous trucks included, has been travelling through a tunnel. It may not be a long tunnel, but it’s a tunnel (and I’m not talking about the wildlife crossing).
    As costs have blown out, cost cutting has become the norm. Just look at the barren landscape left along the S2W upgrade when they ran out of money and the landscaping stopped, and that road cuts a swathe through some of the best biodiversity in Australia. This is about cost cutting folks, and dangerous goods is the easy way out.
    Pity the poor folk living in the echo chamber west of Coffs. They’re doing it on the cheap, cuttings, steep climbs and no tunnels, from what I hear. Which translates to more noise.

  9. Jenny Beatson

    Listening to this interview with Minister Pavey on 3/9/18, I think we all know the answer but I think we should fight it tooth and nail! Thanks for the heads-up, Grant!
    http://player.triplem.com.au/coffs/#/shows/moffee%20for%20breakfast/37801
    (Copy and paste into your browser if link doesn’t work).

  10. Jonathan cassell

    I’m concerned Coffs Harbour is going to get an ugly, noisy and hazardous highway bypass. We live in one of the most beautiful regions in Australia and should be making every effort to live with as little impact as possible on our surroundings. This bypass development would best be served by having community concerns seriously addressed and looking to abate conflict that rises with the best outcomes for all stakeholders. This means we may have to spend a little more and build the best bypass possible for Coffs. I’m for that and in 20 years we will all be so much better for having done so!!!

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