Council backs residents' fight

Byron Council has backed Bangalow residents in their opposition to a planned new interchange as part of the Pacific Highway upgrade.

At its last meeting for 2010, the council voted to support a motion from Cr Tony Heeson backing a petition from residents opposing the interchange.

The petition has called on the State Government to direct the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) to retain the existing slip roads to enter and exit the existing highway, and to oppose the construction of a new interchange at Bangalow.

Cr Heeson said ‘just about the whole of Bangalow’ signed the petition opposing the new interchange.

“It’s not wanted,” Cr Heeson said.

“The community of Bangalow do not want this access.”

Cr Heeson said that the planned interchange redirected all expressway traffic on to Bangalow Road between the proposed northbound off-ramp and the proposed southbound on-ramp.

It also redirected all heavy vehicles not allowed to use the planned St Helena tunnel on to Bangalow Road between the proposed northbound off-ramp and the proposed southbound on-ramp, he said.

The proposed interchange required all traffic to negotiate a 180-degree turn at the roundabout, make a right-hand turn on to Bangalow Road before travelling 200m along that road and then making another right-hand turn to get back on to the expressway.

A new interchange would encourage high levels of traffic west of Bangalow to travel down the town’s main street, which would have an impact on road safety and create noise and pollution problems in the CBD.

Cr Richard Staples not only didn’t want the interchange – he called on the RTA to stop building highways.

Cr Staples said the RTA was living in ‘fairyland’ if it thought it was providing sustainable transport infrastructure.
“It’s crazy,” Cr Staples said.

Bangalow resident Ian Hay said that if the new interchange went ahead, it would redirect trucks carrying dangerous goods and wide or heavy loads on to Bangalow Road.

“We’re talking about trucks carrying dangerous goods – explosive, flammable or toxic loads – and trucks carrying wide or high loads,” he said.

“It also includes all highway traffic in the event of the tunnel being closed.

“These trucks would need to negotiate a 180-degree turn at the RTA’s proposed interchange, not an easy feat for a truck carrying a heavy load, and then negotiate a 90-degree right turn on to Bangalow Road.

“It’s a local road so there’s local traffic they would need to give way to.

“And then about 100 metres further up Bangalow Road, they’d have to make another right-hand turn onto a new access ramp onto the new highway.”

Mr Hay said that if constructed, the new interchange would mix highway traffic with local traffic, posing serious risks in terms of traffic congestion, load spillages, pollution and road safety.

“Bangalow Road is simply not designed to cope with heavy traffic,” he said.

Bangalow residents say that a better solution is to retain the existing simple slip road interchange.

Heavy vehicles not permitted through the St Helena tunnel would be redirected along the old highway, as would all traffic in the event of the tunnel being closed.

This traffic would then rejoin the new highway at Ross Lane interchange if heading south, or at Ewingsdale interchange if heading north.

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