In the right direction
GROUPS calling for the urgent upgrade of the Pacific Hwy have welcomed the State Government's announcement to boost funding to almost $1 billion over the next financial year.
In the NSW Budget delivered by Treasurer Mike Baird on Tuesday, $468 million was allocated to the upgrade of the Pacific Hwy, which will be combined with $450 million earmarked by the Federal Government for the work.
The planned upgrade - estimated to cost $8.7 billion in total - will see dual carriageway constructed along most of the Pacific Hwy and other infrastructure improvements.
One of the groups lobbying the government to upgrade to dual carriageway is Doctors for a Safe Pacific Highway.
Spokesman for the group, Dr Ray Jones, said although he hadn't had a chance to properly review the announcement, the $1 billion allocated for work over the next financial year was a "step in the right direction."
"Whether they've responded to the pressure we've put them under I don't know but it sounds like they're making a significant contribution to fixing the highway as soon as possible," Dr Jones said.
"The government now needs to make the highway a priority and get it done - both State and Federal governments."
Dr Jones said there was a difference between allocating money and actually spending it so he said the Doctors for a Safe Pacific Highway would now keep pressure on the government to follow through with completing the work.
Pacific Highway Taskforce chairman Cr Richie Williamson cautiously welcomed the State Government's funding commitment.
"Any increase in funding is something that we applaud. We would always - like everybody else - like more money, but the $468 million in the budget which is new money is most welcome," Cr Williamson said.
"It's baby steps but the government does need to be congratulated on this but in doing so, acknowledge there is a lot more work to be done."
Mr Williamson said now funding for the work was secured for the next few years, the next step was to make sure it continued until the project's estimated 2016 completion date.
"After the 2013 financial year, the funding agreement between the State and the Federal governments is up for renewal and I'm told that the State Government has already made moves to set aside some $300 million for the following financial year," Mr Williamson said.
"What the Pacific Highway Taskforce would like to do is speak with the two levels of government to ensure that the new deal has higher funding commitments to ensure that the $8.7 billion is met in future budgets."