The Bangalow Progress Association has objected to new signage proposals by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) that will continue to direct Lismore traffic from the Pacific Highway at Bangalow, even when the upgrade is completed.
Progress Association president Tony Hart said the group believed the purpose of the new highway was always to ensure heavy trucks were as far as possible kept off local roads.
‘The intention of the main highway was to encourage freight to stay on that highway,’ he told ABC local radio yesterday.
‘A lot of money is spent building these highways and yet, against local advice, the RMS is proposing a sign at Ewingsdale that will indicate that people should go off the highway to get to Lismore via Bangalow,’ he said.
‘That road is already overloaded. It’s a dangerous road; there have been a lot of deaths on it. Soon we will have a highway that is very safe, yet the RMS is still planning to suggest drivers take what at first appears to be a shortcut but is in fact only about four minutes shorter.’
Prior to the finalisation of the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale route, meetings between Bangalow residents and the (then) Roads and Traffic Authority thrashed out a compromise whereby traffic heading to and from the south would have direct access to the town but traffic heading to and from the north would continue to access Bangalow via the old (existing) Pacific Highway from Ewingsdale.
Mr Hart said yesterday that had included a commitment not to include signs at Ewingsdale that would encourage motorists heading to Lismore to take the old route.
Vehicles travelling to Lismore to were to be encouraged to access it via the Ballina and Alstonville bypasses and the Bruxner Highway.
Mr Hart said that, after years of negotiation, ‘we were suddenly told that Lismore Council had requested a sign for Lismore and that was added into the final proposal and there was not any chance to discuss it’.
He added that Lismore Council had not been involved in any of the community discussions.
But a spokesperson for Lismore City Council told Echonetdaily that if the existing Lismore–Bangalow Road were not included in official direction signs there was a very real possibility it would be deleted as a state-classified road, with the cost of repairs and maintenance thrown back onto Lismore and Byron councils.
‘Lismore City Council requested that Bangalow Road remain signposted. They are secondary signs but it is a state-classified road to Lismore and needs to be signposted as such,’ said Lismore’s executive director of infrastructure services, Garry Hemsworth.
‘We believe the initial decision not to signpost Bangalow Road was part of a push by the RMS to have Bangalow Road downgraded from a state road and shift the cost to Council,’ he added.
Mr Hemsworth said a secondary issue was that people wanting to get to Clunes or Bexhill may be confused if there were no signage to Lismore on Bangalow Road.
‘We already have major capacity issues with the Bruxner Highway at Goonellabah and further diversion of traffic from Bangalow Road onto Ballina Road will only increase congestion,’ he said.