Welcome to this week’s editorial, Following the handing down of the budget last Tuesday there were many in the South East that felt as if they had simply been ignored in regards to any funding announcements for the Princes Highway. With months of lead up in the press of the Fix it Now and Fix the Bloody Highway campaigns and with the steady build up of representation from Bega and Eurobodalla Councils to lobby for the highway to be duly considered for federal funding there was some hope that an announcement might be forthcoming. Nothing…. Bugger all—except to reiterate that funds were now committed to the Batemans Bay Bridge and the Nelligen Bridge—as for road works… yes there was an announcement of $1.5b for the Shoalhaven for bypasses with $10m identified for pavement works from Nowra to Batemans Bay. Gary Smith, the organiser behind the Moruya TeenSafe Fix The Bloody Highway campaign spoke at length to The Beagle of his disappointment that there was nothing at all in the NSW State budget for the Princes Highway south of Batemans Bay to the Victorian border. “In the announcements on Tuesday not a cent was forthcoming to any road works along the Princes Highway within the entire Bega electorate.” Gary and many others have recognised that $1.5 billion has been set aside for the highway north that will go into the Shoalhaven with the Berry bypass, Albion Rail bypass, Nowra Bridge and pavement treatments. It is agreed that there is a need to slowly upgrade the transport corridor between Nowra and Sydney as Nowra's (and even Ulladulla's) industrial section grows however of surprise was that following such a public outcry via the Fairfax Fix It Now campaign and Gary's own Fix the Bloody Highway campaign there was nothing at all forthcoming for the Bega Electorate. It has been recently argued that there has been considerable funding put in place for the Dignams Creek bypass and for the safety works at Dalmeny and south of Bodalla however as a percentage of the network this is indeed small change compared to the massive injections of money going into metropolitan Sydney. The commitment of $300m to the replacement of the Nelligen Bridge and the Batemans Bay Bridge was made some time ago. In reality the Nelligen replacement is part of any long term asset renewal program and while the Batemans Bay Bridge is only 60 years old its replacement has risen to the top a good twenty years before its due replacement date. Gary Smith is quite clear when he says "Bridges haven't killed anyone and the $110m earmarked for the Batemans Bay Bridge could be better spent improving our transport corridor and treating high risk areas."
While the RMS are now hell bent on starting the bridge work many are now questioning if there was no allocation to roads in Bega and Eurobodalla then maybe the best thing to do now is just WELD THE BRIDGE SHUT as the new bridge won’t be going up and down and spend the money where it is needed to assist in the growth of the region because a four lane bridge won’t be much use when the rest of the network is still forgotten and in disrepair.
Until next Lei