Highway-fix a major election issue

THE State Coalition has vowed the Pacific Highway will receive a major funding commitment prior to the election.

Coalition leader Barry O’Farrell and deputy leader, roads spokesman Andrew Stoner, have assured the problem national highway will be a major election issue.

Confirmation came after Mr O’Farrell opened his election campaign, announcing a $200 million package to fix up to 30 black spots on NSW roads, known for high rates of accidents and crash deaths.

This package will focus on Sydney’s Wisemans Ferry Road, Heathcote Road, Picton Roads and the Newell and Golden highways.

Pacific Highway funding, meanwhile is contained in the Coalition’s Restart NSW infrastructure fund.

“We’re committed to putting maximum dollars into black spots, we’re committed to reducing the carnage on our roads, we’re committed to ending Labor’s complacency about roads the RTA has recognised for almost a decade have been costing lives,” Mr O’Farrell said.

He said the package, announced Sunday, would be the first of a series of funding announcements in the run-up to the March 26 State election.

Mr Stoner said the Coalition would fast-track Pacific Highway planning to see dual carriage duplication completed by 2016.

“NSW Labor originally promised to upgrade the entire Pacific Highway by 2006, but that was later pushed back to 2016 – now it looks like the Keneally Labor Government won’t meet this deadline,” Mr Stoner said.

“The NSW Liberals and Nationals represent the electorates along the Pacific Highway and understand first-hand the impact deadly accidents on this road have on our communities.

“That is why we have long advocated for its full upgrade to dual carriageway.”

NSW Labor Roads Minister David Borger defended the government, saying record road safety spending of $68.5 million had been allocated in 2010/11.

Mr Borger said the $200 million promised by the coalition was more than $400 million less than the amount spent fixing dangerous road conditions in the State in the past four years.

“Regrettably, (the) announcement by the NSW Opposition raises many questions, not just those concerning whether the road safety budget will be cut,” Mr Borger said. “In the past four years, the NSW Labor Government has allocated more than $620 million, yet the Coalition is promising less than one-third of that amount.”

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