Welcome to this week’s editorial, There is much being said about the Fixing it Now campaign that has been initiated in the north regarding the condition of the Princes Highway. There is outcry at the spate of fatalities and the increasing impact that higher traffic volumes are placing on this apparently forgotten section of the National Highway. There are demands for dual carriageways and for major State and Federal investment to make good NOW however what is being sought can’t happen overnight. What many are not aware of is that the road alignments we drive on are mostly exactly as they were in the days of horse and cart. Most of our rural land was pegged and roads surveyed in the 1800’s. Yes, there has been some ironing out but that takes a lot of money to compensate land owners long before the first sod is turned on a new bypass. Dignams Creek is a great example. A winding dangerous section of road that followed the path used by stage coaches and miners. Finally they did deals with landowners and straightened it all out. Fixing roads isn’t able to be done with immediate fixes. Placing median barriers on a poor section of road such as the Mad Mile in Batemans Bay does nothing to improve the road. That section is simply too curvy for the speed that drivers want to travel at. There is often mention of how great Victorian roads are. That is because they began the process of straightening out and land purchase some 60 years ago with systematic foresight. They also have long term plans and commit a budget to it. For at least the last 27 years there’s been much public discussion about the State of the Princes Highway through the Eurobodalla Shire and on to the Victorian Border. Discussions of any substance first began with the State Government in the 1990’s when Carl Scully was the Minister responsible. The communications involved Eurobodalla Council Staff petitioning that the South Coast roads needed attention. Back then Council staff had an opinion and a keenness to press the highway issue. Now they basically say it isn’t their banana. When asked about the highway Council staff usually respond to inquirers that it’s got nothing to do with Council and that it’s the responsibility of the State Government. While that is technically correct our elected Councillors and Council staff do have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of the shire’s residents and visitors to have significant improvements made to the Princes Highway to improve safety and travel times through the shire. The Fix it Now campaign is being championed up north by the Chair of the South East Area Transport Strategy (SEATS) . Lots of noise, lots of bravado but at the end of the day what you really have is a toothless advocacy group (of which Eurobodalla is a member) rattling blunt sabres at a government who continues to focus on higher population areas that have higher traffic volumes and therefore greater probabilities of fatalities on roads. The duplication of the Hume and Pacific Highways has seen a dramatic drop in fatalities.Some years ago Council supported a motion to lobby or advocate for the Federal Government budget funding that was being used to redevelop the Hume Highway to be applied to the Princes Highway once the Hume Highway works were completed. All Councillors supported that idea at the time. As we are all very much aware the Princes Highway, as it passes through the Eurobodalla Shire, requires significant re-routing and town by-passes.Council staff know this but seem reluctant to truly and proactively support the process, nor to firmly advocate for long term duplication works occurring in the shire. Leaving it up to the RMS also leaves the priority up to the RMS. Council staff are of course employed to assist councillors and the shires residents achieve progressive and productive out comes that benefit all the shires residents and visitors in the shire.Our local Councillors and their “advising” engineers need to get behind the community and advocate for some real long term state Government planning for a new Princes Highway Corridor through the Eurobodalla Shire that improves travel times and all users safety. Council and our SEATS representative need to change their thinking and attitude about what’s required with the Princes Highway.Presently there is no long term plan. The plan they are working was written a decade ago as a twenty year plan and it has little if any foresight and has no consideration at all for the traffic that will rumble through Batemans Bay, Mogo, Moruya, Bodalla and Narooma in the next thirty years.It is understood that Council is considering taking action to restrict the growing trend of south bound travellers detouring through Moruya, turning left at the Adelaide Hotel and skirting the town via Ford Street.
With holiday traffic backing up to the Industrial Area of Moruya to the north and to the TAFE in the south many believe that this is just a taste of things to come. Until next, lei (thanks to Allan Brown for his contribution)