Gary Smith of Moruya’s TeenSafe has had enough and is declaring the Princes Highway between Nowra and the Victoria border a death trap and is inviting all levels of government to Fix the BLOODY Highway. Gary told The Beagle “I have cautiously driven the highway for 30 years and while there have been some welcome improvements I am very concerned every time my family and friends drive this narrow second rate road.
“I am the manager of Teensafe which has been running a safe driver training program for L and P plate teenagers at Moruya for over 20 years. A dedicated team of volunteers has provided behind-the-wheel driving skills to teens mainly from Eurobodalla Shire but also as far as Nowra, Bega and Queanbeyan. We do this because the area has minimal public transport other than school buses so car travel is essential and it is mostly on the highway . "Our aim is to give teenagers better skills to safely navigate this bloody highway".
“In my opinion, speed is not the problem, it is a combination of driver fatigue or distraction and a lack of overtaking lanes and centre barriers on the highway. “The traffic is much busier now with bigger trucks and caravans than the highway was designed for. It is very frustrating to be stuck behind a slow vehicle knowing there are too few overtaking lanes. For example, I regularly drive a busy 15km stretch of the highway between Moruya and Tuross and there is only one overtaking lane. That seems to be typical between Narooma and Nowra. The poor quality of the Princes Highway costs us all in wasted time, car smashes, injuries and in slowing economic growth and reducing the number of people visiting or moving to this very desirable place to holiday, live and work. As for funding Gary feels that it is a question of priorities. “There is obviously delay due to the great cost in building a four lane highway between Nowra and Narooma . So it is difficult for us locals to justify why billions can be spent in Sydney for tunnels and roads to move endless traffic a few minutes closer to a traffic jam, let alone more than $2 billion for another stadium while people die on our bloody highway. “There is also a total of half a billion dollars earmarked for new bridges at Nowra and Batemans Bay. “Well, we want new bridges but they are not killing people, the highway is.” My request of the government at all levels is to the choose your priority. “ Drivers on the coast have little choice but to drive yet pay up to 20 cents per litre more for petrol than city drivers who have far more public transport. “How about increasing petrol excise tax in the city and reducing it by 20 cents litre in country areas for a huge increase in revenue ? “How about reducing the outrageous annual car registration fees in country areas and increasing it for city registered cars, especially big thirsty 4WD cars in the city.
“Nobody here wants to wait another 30 years for a safer four lane highway between Nowra and Narooma, but in the meantime, how about the immediate fast tracking of more overtaking lanes and centre barriers to give us drivers and passengers a chance to survive. “Have we got to go to the trouble of getting thousands of signatures on a petition to Fix The Bloody Highway ? "We are launching our campaign in support of those who are also pressing the government to recognise the state of our South Coast roads BELOW Ulladulla which is where the Fix It Now campaign seems to draw to a halt. "While there has been pressure from the Chair of the South East Area Transport Strategy discussing all the shortfalls between Kiama and Nowra our own local Eurobodalla SEATS person is silent. "Council has a role to play as well in lobbying the State and Federal Government and while the announcements today of $7.9m from the Federal Government only $1.2m of that was for the highway with the balance to be spent on the Tomakin roundabout at George Bass Drive ($3.5m) with the rest spent on the Perry Street Intersection and Beach Road/ Orient Street intersections which is for the purpose of traffic flow. "Over coming weeks expect to see the campaign build and we will keep the community informed of the progress we are making in regards to our communications with all levels of Government".