Local, Opinion/Comment

“Time for a fresh look at far western by-pass”

With all the media attention on “We will build Tunnels” not Cuttings, you may not have noticed that the costings for the construction of RMS preferred Bypass has increased well past the costings for the construction of a Far Western Bypass.

By Frank Kinninmont


With the RMS preferred Bypass construction costings released at $1.2 to $1.4 Billion, added to that the cost of the Tunnels plus costs of annual tunnel maintenance taking it to the area of $1.7 Billion for the 14km preferred Bypass.

The Pacific Highway as it is today bisecting the city.

The current costings for the Far Western Bypass of $800 Million to $1 Billion for an approximate 50km now makes it the cheapest option. With, $971 Million promised by the Coalition construction can start immediately.


Starting at Englands road, though a Cutting at Roberts Hill, which will allow the transport of Dangerous Goods, a Viaduct (Highway in the Sky) across the Orara Valley, the Viaduct having such a small footprint will have little to no effect on any farms or plantations that it may go over, then into the forestry, skirting any National Parks as per RMS map, then connecting to Halfway
Creek .

If you park down at Bennets Road and look west. it is not hard to visualise a 4 lane highway by a Viaduct across the Orara valley which then disappears into the forests.

The Viaduct across the valley has a quiet sereneness about it, Then compare it with the Noise and Air Pollution producing RMS preferred Bypass going through the West Coffs suburb gouging its way across the valley through any farms, plantations and the pristine landscape all
which will then be gone forever.

The benefits of the Far Western Bypass route would arguably affect only 200 people rather than 2 to 3 thousand in the West Coffs Basin that would be affected by all the Noise and Air Pollution, property devaluation issues for the rest of their life.

As what has been said by Gordon Whittle in the Advocates “Six decades of debate on a Pacific Highway Bypass” he quoted “The Far Western Bypass was the only intelligent and cost-effective option”.

If the RMS are looking at the lowest cost Bypass, they now have one, the far Western Bypass.

With this situation, why are the RMS still pursuing the preferred Bypass?
With a new Nationals Team representing Coffs Harbour I am confident they will have a fresh look at the choice of a Bypass route suitable for a modern 2019 Coffs Harbour and hopefully show compassion for the West Coffs Residents who will be affected by the 20 year old out of date RMS preferred Bypass, the legacy left by their predecessors.

All the residents that will be affected by the RMS preferred Bypass plus anyone who considers the Far Western Bypass the best option should now contact their newly elected State and Federal Nationals MP’s for a reason for not building the best Bypass for Coffs Harbour, the Far Western Bypass.

Don’t wait another 50 years for the best Bypass when it can be started now.


CONTACTS
The Hon.Paul Toole. Minister for Regional Roads & Transport: [email protected]
Patrick Conaghan. Federal Nationals MP for Cowper. [email protected]
Gurmesh Singh. State Nationals MP for Coffs Harbour. [email protected]

8 Comments

  1. Via duct across the Valley! What you have to be kidding. What is it, “empty land belonging To no one?” This via duct across the valley is full of boutique farms that weren’t there 20 years ago.

  2. Frank, whatever you’re smoking I want some!! Read part 13 of this report – https://www.pacifichighway.nsw.gov.au/document-library/coffs-harbour-highway-planning-strategy-report-preferred-option-route-november. In 2003 dollars the Far Western Bypass was estimated to cost $1.11 billion. The Coastal Corridor (which is the selected option) was expected to cost up to $900 million. Obviously that cost has increased, but so would have the Far Western Bypass. The report said the FWB would have bigger cuttings (even with tunnels), poor traffic function (compared to good for the coastal corridor), very poor economic viability (compared to fair for the coastal corridor), moderate to very high adverse environmental impacts (compared to low to moderate for the coastal corridor) and moderate adverse impacts to Aboriginal heritage (compared to low for the Coastal corridor) options. Obviously this is a report from 2004 so things have changed since then, but when you compare the options, the FWB makes no sense on any measure. The FWB is never going to happen. Rather than wasting your time on getting the route re-evaluated, focus your energy on getting the best out of this option.

  3. It is irresponsible not to review options. The decision to build a ring road is 15-20 years old depending on how you look at it and was a state government/RMS imposition on Coffs that was always against the wishes of the community and council who were heavily engaged at the time. Then over time a people became weary and disillusioned resulting in the more recent broader capitulation – due to ignorance, laziness, a sense of hopelessness, desperation or simply because there is a lack of strategic longer term thinking and vision amongst our leadership and decision makers. Importantly much has changed in 15 years, not just in terms of development in growth corridors but because construction technology and capability has changed which potentially has a material impact on costs and benefits of the different options. And something that doesn’t get the focus that it should, which is the impact to Coffs during the construction period. The countless number of trucks and worker vehicles traversing our quiet residential areas continuously over 5-6 years, the noise, pollution and disruption to a large area of the community and the environment. This is not trivial and were it a bypass would not be a point of concern but being a ringroad, it is catastrophic and life changing for many. Remember, we have schools, kindergartens, nursing homes, a hospital and farms alongside residential communities. We have bushland corridors and waterways that some may be surprised to know are still home to diverse flora and fauna – already under pressure, what will happen there? And we don’t have footpaths in most of west Coffs so children, bicycle riders, dog walkers and pedestrians in general, what’s that going to be like sharing the road with 100s of trucks and workers vehicles on a daily basis who perhaps may not be sensitive to the local community. We need to pull together as a community. If you are not informed about how this ring road would affect those in west Coffs and the community more broadly, then take the time to come and visit us and explore where we live. And if you don’t care, then what to say, at the least, don’t be nasty, don’t dismiss our concerns and consider trusting what we say after all, for very good reason we’re immersed in this disastrous possibility and have taken the effort to understand and speak up…

  4. It is irresponsible not to review options. The decision to build a ring road is 15-20 years old depending on how you look at it and was a state government/RMS imposition on Coffs that was always against the wishes of the community and council who were heavily engaged at the time. Then over time a people became weary and disillusioned resulting in the more recent broader capitulation – due to ignorance, laziness, a sense of hopelessness, desperation or simply because there is a lack of strategic longer term thinking and vision amongst our leadership and decision makers. Importantly much has changed in 15 years, not just in terms of development in growth corridors but because construction technology and capability has changed which potentially has a material impact on costs and benefits of the different options. And something that doesn’t get the focus that it should, which is the impact to Coffs during the construction period. The countless number of trucks and worker vehicles traversing our quiet residential areas continuously over 5-6 years, the noise, pollution and disruption to a large area of the community and the environment. This is not trivial and were it a bypass would not be a point of concern but being a ringroad, it is catastrophic and life changing for many. Remember, we have schools, kindergartens, nursing homes, a hospital and farms alongside residential communities. We have bushland corridors and waterways that some may be surprised to know are still home to diverse flora and fauna – already under pressure, what will happen there? And we don’t have footpaths in most of west Coffs so children, bicycle riders, dog walkers and pedestrians in general, what’s that going to be like sharing the road with 100s of trucks and workers vehicles on a daily basis who perhaps may not be sensitive to the local community. We need to pull together as a community. If you are not informed about how this ring road would affect those in west Coffs and the community more broadly, then take the time to come and visit us and explore where we live. And if you don’t care, then what to say, at the least, don’t be nasty, don’t insult us, don’t dismiss our concerns and consider trusting what we say after all, for very good reason we’re immersed in this disastrous possibility and have taken the effort to understand and speak up…

  5. Peter Farquhar

    The ideal would have been through the Crossmaglen, Friday Creek and Orara valleys rejoining through Lanitza to the highway at Dirty Crerk range. This would have put Coffs and all the local villages on the eastern side of the highway aĺowing the communities to become united instead of divided.
    The problem would be going through National’s heartland with enormous NIMBI.
    It would be far preferrable to piss off a couple of hundred people than tens of thousands like the current proposal does. Remember, most of the support for the Bypass (Ring Road) is resultant that any by pass is better than what we have at the moment.
    Apart from the number of trucks transitting Coffs, there won’t be a massive easing of the current congestion because most of the traffic is local. Just travel into Coffs from any direction andvexit at the other end and notice the reduction in the number of vehicles still travelling with you.

  6. Ann Leonard

    Excellent idea.

    • Ann Leonard

      Having said that cutting between Ulidarra(?) nature reserve and the state Forest west Bruxner Park and rejoining at Moonee would impact very few private properties, shorten the route by rejoining the highway at Bucca Road and maximise use of the existing northern and section of the current Pacific highway through to Grafton.

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