Cowper candidate calls Coffs Bypass plan ‘sellout of the century’

Labor’s Andrew Woodward had this to say after the Coffs Harbour Bypass plans were released this morning in a press conference.

I have watched the news conference in Coffs Harbour involving Mr McCormack, Mr Hartsuyker and Ms Pavey. 

I am not proposing a toll road through Coffs Harbour. I was saying West Connex is mostly underground. Why do they get tunnels and we don’t? And the NSW Government just got $9.3 billion from the sale of 51 per cent of West Connex.

The point I was making is: they’re not short of funds; if it is good enough for Sydney, it should be good enough for us. Just do it right. 

Thousands of residents will suffer noise pollution. The decision to ‘cut and cover’ will have a significant impact on Aboriginal heritage, nature, wildlife and habitats. We should have three tunnels. 

The agreed PR spin today was that this is all about getting the trucks out of the main street of Coffs Harbour. Yes, that’s a good thing. 

But their argument that we can’t have tunnels because of dangerous goods is, again, rubbish. 

There are several Pacific Highway tunnels already - at Byron, Chinderah and Gold Coast Airport. Only 0.001 per cent of vehicles would fall into the category of those that can’t use a tunnel. We’re talking maybe 30 vehicles out of 28,000 a day, or just over one an hour. 

All dangerous goods would pass through the St Helena [Byron] tunnel on the upgraded highway, with the exception of Class 1 (explosive) and Class 2.1 (flammable gasses)...Typically, the Pacific Highway carries about 14,000 vehicles per day in this area. 2,300 of these are heavy vehicles. There is the potential for 100 – 130 of these heavy vehicles to be dangerous goods. It would be expected that between seven and 15 of these vehicles would not be permitted through the tunnel.


And if this is true (about dangerous vehicles), why then were three tunnels permissible in the RMS plan in September 2016 but not now? What has changed between 2016 and 2018? 

Melinda Pavey said we’re getting a “gold-plated option” and “I don’t want people to feel they have been compromised at all”.

They have been compromised. This is the “El Cheapo” Bypass. This is a decision, if it comes to fruition, we will regret for a century. 

Rather than “gold plated” it is more like ‘fools gold’ where thousands of people in Coffs Harbour will be compromised because they’re doing it on the cheap. The reality is, the money they’re likely to spend on noise mitigation through insulating houses from noise for about $50,000 each won’t be far off the cost of the tunnels. 

And we’re probably talking about 1,000 houses (or $50 million worth) - that’s one thousand families that can’t have the doors and windows open enjoying fresh air because of noise. What impact will that have on housing prices? Will they be compensated? 

This is the sell-out of the century. 

The Federal and State Governments should send the Roads and Maritime Services back to the drawing board and come up with a better design with three tunnels for the $1.2 billion allocated. 

I also urge the community to participate in the three information sessions planned by RMS. You need to be organised and make your opposition to their half-baked plan known and loudly. 

Coffs Harbour deserves better. 

Labor candidate for Cowper Andrew Woodward


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This story Cowper candidate calls Coffs Bypass plan ‘sellout of the century’ first appeared on Guardian News.