A dash of flavour to the roads debate

Dear Beagle Editor, Of late there has been debate around the highway corridors and the need/desire of Councillors to have a round table meeting of all key players to discuss Highway vs Access to/from the Shire The following might offer some flavour to the discussions.

It is hoped that the people involved will see that the roads and bridges will be in the right places only if they are sited consistent with the longer term, bigger picture needs and these are yet to be determined let alone agreed by the “stakeholders” other than, it seems, in certain parts of council who have shelved Cl Constable’s motion from back in February.

The proposed meeting could start the ball rolling towards a three tier approach involving the Feds (who also have interests in keeping Gilmore and winning back Eden Monaro) for extra funding as well as keeping the Barnaby Joyces of the world happy by exploring possible links with his railway, piping water from Snowy 2, extending natural gas availability to the south coast, etc.. More opportunities for jobs and growth, eh? (Our RDA and SEATS representatives could be allies in this - if it turned them on!)

It is also important that the state’s planners are neither acting in isolation from their national counterparts nor focussing only on how they can make better use in the immediate future of what is already in place but do take the time to reflect on the longer term needs of the shire and region beyond just roads and for things we haven’t currently got, like natural gas, for instance, and importantly how our area can play strategic roles in national projects. (like providing access to export/import shipping facilities separate from the over-crowded and congested major ports.)

The highways, of course, are very important in the near and long term future but they aren’t the only, nor necessarily the most important, considerations for social and economic prosperity - pipelines for gas, and water, power transmission lines (above or below ground!), fibre-optic cables, even railways can all ultimately share the same corridors with roads as long as they are appropriately planned. Imagine, politicians, if you can, the enormous opportunities to develop and protect the security of our corner of the country and its links with northern, southern and western centres. The fear is that while attempting to solve existing “problems”, despite the temptation of being influenced by any political expediency or economic rationalism, it will be all too easy to have ourselves painted into a corner by creating infrastructure that might appear to be affordable now but will present inordinately greater expense or even prevent the realisation of a better solution in the future. Dare I suggest that an example of this might be building new bridges without giving them access unimpeded by bottleneck-causing roundabouts and traffic lights as is the case in Batemans Bay now or deferring more sensible, and inevitable, town by-passes, or building roads without provision for enough lanes to cope with possible future traffic loads, etc..

A technique handy to look beyond the immediately (apparently) obvious Band-Aid solutions might be to imagine what would be built there if it was perfect world and then to work out what would have to be done progressively to get closer! This sort of approach counters the “It can’t be done” sort of statements with the question “What prevents it?”

Name and address supplied


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