State candidates in ‘rare agreement’ on Bypass Tunnels

It is a rare occasion when all candidates for the forthcoming State Election are on exactly the same page but that happened last night at the Coffs Bypass Action Group State Candidates’ Forum.

The candidates at Wednesday nights meeting.

Every candidate supports, as a minimum the tunnels as set out in the Connell and Wagner 2008 report that would see tunnels in place at Roberts Hill (80m), Shepards Lane(350m) and Gately Road (450m).

Present were Gurmesh Singh, The Nationals, Sally Townley, Independent, Tony Judge, Labor, Stuart Davidson, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and Jonathan Cassell, The Greens.

About 120 locals were there to hear what they had to say.

The major players were also in agreement that the fact that current RMS practice prohibitdangerous goods types 1 and 2.1 from using tunnels would not stop them supporting tunnels.

As the Labor Candidate, Tony Judge said “This has been one of the biggest furphys of this discussion. Hundreds of dangerous goods vehicles travel through Sydney roads on a daily basis with no problems.”

Statistics suggest this would mean between 7 and 12 still going
through Coffs each day, with 1/3 of them having to enter Coffs to refill here anyway.

Gurmesh Singh, Nationals, stated that this problem with dangerous goods is state wide and is being looked at closely. It is an RMS regulation and they could change it.

Audience members pointed out that overseas dangerous goods travel through tunnels that are kilometres long.

The Coramba Interchange remains a controversial issue with all candidates stating they would be looking at this more closely now. A question was asked about noise remediation for residents who will be within metres of the construction and Gurmesh Singh handed that to current sitting member, Andrew Fraser, who committed to helping residents obtain this.

The other thing that became obvious is that there are still many questions to be answered eg; what happened to the provision for a third lane?

Graham Stubington, spokesperson for the Action Group asked for a commitment to an independent body being appointed to oversee the RMS on noise. “The current position is that the RMS is the body that creates the noise problem and they also measure and report on what should be done about it. Independent assessors should be appointed.” Gurmesh Singh’s
response was that he would agree to that if it was felt necessary.

Details are still lacking and the audience asked for more information to be forthcoming sooner rather than later with the new Consultative Committee seen as a likely to be a distraction rather than of assistance.

Chairman, Brian Polack wrapped up the meeting by reiterating what the Action Group is looking for:

  1. A clear written statement.
    a. For parties with a central state body: A statement from the minister or shadow minister with responsibility for roads that sets out clearly the party’s requirements for the Coffs Harbour Bypass.
    b. For independents. A statement that sets out clearly the candidate’s
    requirements for the Coffs Harbour Bypass and a statement of how they intend going about making that happen.
  2. Key elements of the written statement.
    a. A clear directive to the RMS to go back to the 3-tunnel model proposed in the 2008 Connell Wagner Concept Design Report, and consistent with the May 2016 State Significant Infrastructure application.
    b. Categorically state that ‘the road must be able to be used by all vehicles’ is not a specific requirement for the RMS to consider.
    c. Support an independent noise analysis being undertaken apart from the RMS to ensure transparency. This would involve pre and post project noise analysis and involvement right through the project design phase.

“We need our state leaders Gladys Berejiklian and Michael Daley to be giving the people of Coffs Harbour a written commitment on this. Similarly the Federal Transport leaders, Michael McCormack and Anthony Albanese need to recommit to funding this project.

Otherwise, unfortunately, the amazing cross-party local support we saw last night becomes just another talkfest.
“The Action Group will continue to work hard on this until we see the full details and a proper commitment.”

The above is a Press Release from the Coffs Bypass Action Group – 31 January 2019.

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