Local, Politics

The by-pass consultation committee: Fair-dinkum or a ruse?

Outlook has been contacted by a number of civil engineers and other credible sources in our region about the proposed Coffs Harbour by-pass and issues around the ‘tunnels verses cuttings’ argument. 

A number of interesting points have risen that are summarised in Part 1 here.

By The Editor

Firstly, let’s look at the issue of the proposed Gately’s Road cutting. 

Work done by our sources has given us a scale picture/diagram (below) of this cutting based on a drawing done by the RMS.

An estimate of the Gatelys Road Cutting as generated by Outlook’s sources for this story

Our sources know the Southern side has 4.5 steps and the North 7.5 to eight steps. They know where the southern side starts and also know roughly how deep it is as there are houses near the extremes of both dimensions.  Fortunately, the RMS’s own artist impression of the Shephards Lane Cutting and viaduct over the railway has 4.5 steps on its southern side as well.

So our sources enlarged the steps to cover the two aforementioned houses, flipped the same step from the south and recreated 7.5 to 8 steps on that side. And what is produced above is what the Gately’s Road cutting could look like with the white area above being the cutting.

Our sources are sure are sure someone will say it’s a fake. In fact it is rather hoped this claim is made, as our sources can argue that they “think it’s pretty right, as they took it off your RMS drawing so unless you were faking that drawing then we should be pretty right.  Show us a real version then RMS, we’re only doing your job and informing the public of what to expect.”

Secondly, the “three amigos”, Messrs Gurmesh, Fraser and Barilaro, at the now famous press conference when they sugar coated the bypass consultation committee announcement with ‘tunnel speak’ also gave themselves a ‘get out clause’.

Deputy Premier Barilaro mentioned three tunnels but also talked about “leaving it to the experts”.  In other words, our sources say, the announcement essentially ‘sugar coats’ the bypass with tunnels pre-election.  Then when/if returned after the March 23 election the Government may then say “the experts say cuttings are the way to go”.

The “leave it to the experts” quote is from the ABC video of the press conference. Minister Barilaro makes the comment twice in fact.

The next day Mr Ken Kanofski, the RMS Head, interviewed on local ABC breakfast radio had trouble speaking the word ‘tunnels’. In fact, he only did so after prompting by ABC announcer, Fi Poole. This gives our sources little confidence in believing what the ‘three amigos’ said recently. 

Our sources claim that they have been told by the RMS drop in shop in Park Ave says that they’re “not working on tunnels.”

And on top of this we are informed that several landholders involved in acquisition negotiations with the current RMS say it’s “business as usual” and that the RMS are still working on cuttings not tunnels.

Our sources believe something is being deliberately hidden. We have also been told that it’s nigh on impossible to lodge a successful GIPA freedom of information request with the RMS for Bypass information.  Obfuscation rules apparently. Are these tactics that a ‘Sir Humphrey Appleby’ would be proud of?

Given this is a public infrastructure project how can any information except commercial in confidence stuff not be freely available to the public? The RMS is meant to be the public service and not the ‘security services’ after all.

Talk of vegetated noise mounds and or noise barriers also raises questions as to how contractors will transport the dirt. Trucks and Dog Trailers seem to a favourite for RMS contractors.

Six to -eight-metre-high by 10-20-metre-wide vegetated noise mounds and or noise barriers will need a lot of dirt removed and a lot of concrete brought in. Those trucks and dog trailers will have to travel on our streets. A top priority for noise treatment as a result will be the Mackays Road area at the end of Bray Street.

How many truck movements will there be past Baringa and the Masonic Retirement Home, not to mention all the homes in one of the most densely populated, long established areas in West Coffs Harbour? Ten thousand, 20,000 or even 50,000 during construction?

The ‘powers that be’ “bang on” about the new developments in West Coffs and allude to those living there as being the only ones concerned about the cuttings proposal. But the bypass, especially if done badly, will affect all of Coffs Harbour both directly and indirectly not only once its finished but during its construction as well our sources say.

They have heard there will be something like eight explosions a day for at least two years in order to blowing out the cuttings!

Lastly, a bit of background as to what went on in developing West Coffs.

The Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) has been working since around 2000 developing the West Coffs Developer Control Plan (DCP). But the NSW Department of Planning would not gazette the DCP unless it included the approved bypass route in it.

Sometime around 2004/5 the Department of Planning, the RTA/RMS and the CHCC met to discuss the impacts of the bypass on housing in West Coffs.

It was decided the RMS (or RTA as they then were) would provide a map to show what areas would be affected.We are informed that their map included an identified area 400m either side of the proposed bypass route.

All development applications (DAs) that were identified within the RMS map held by the CHCC required referral to the RMS for comment and concurrence. We are informed the fact that these lands were to be potentially burdened by the noise and vibration impact of the bypass was also noted on title and on 149 of the zoning certificates issued.

Our sources believe that the RMS/RTA and the State Government knew, and were privy to, the potential impact on those lands when the CHCC were determining the DAs and that the RMS/RTA had a role in those DA decisions.

Food for thought? Well there is more.

Coming soon; “Who is running this thing State Government politicians or the Sir Humphrey Applebys in the RMS?”


  1. Both the Labour and Liberals/Nationals parties have been in power at some time during the upgrade of the Pacific Highway and planning for the Coffs Harbour bypass.
    The common factor during these times is the RMS/RTA beaurocrats and staff. The relevant ministers in government should be responsible for the outcomes of this project. Because of its technical complexity, I believe their only instruction has been to keep the costs down. Thereby, the designing process has been deferred for “the experts ” (RMS) to decide, which of course is dictated by the cost. In this way the politicians and their parties can do a “Pontius Pilate” and walk away from the consequences.

  2. Ennio Bardella

    Dear Editor, delighted you have weighed in to this critical issue for our city on so many fronts. You are in a unique and privileged position to disseminate information on the depth of deception and dishonesty perpetrated so far by the NSW government and RMS on the people of Coffs Harbour. This is nothing short of contemptable. My opinion is that regardless of the costs today the freeway must truly bypass the city and its suburbs and not forever impede growth and burden us with 24/7 air and NOISE pollution. Please keep the momentum on this very important issue, we need to make a united and concerted effort to fight for what is best for our city.

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