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The easily forgotten history of who did what

The Beagle Editor, In June 2008 Deputy NSW Coroner Carl Milovanovich handed down his findings on the state of the Princes Highway after examining 15 fatal accidents on the Princes Highway between October 2003 and March 2007.

The crashes, including four double fatalities, occurred on a 430km stretch of road between Yallah, near Wollongong, and the Victorian border.

In his findings, Mr Milovanovich described the highway as "unforgiving" to driver error and to people who ignored speed advisory signage, but he stopped short of blaming the road itself for the accidents.

He recommended the upgrade of a stretch of the highway between Victoria Creek and Dignams Creek, south of Bateman's Bay on the NSW south coast.

"The road environment at these locations is most unforgiving," Mr Milovanovich said in his findings.

"The traffic lanes are narrow, impermissibly so by modern standards. There is little or no paved road shoulder. There are obstacles in the clear zone. There are unprotected drops ... the road is winding.

"The consequences of simple driver error in such an environment may be catastrophic."

Mr Milovanovich said the dangers on the road had not been overlooked by the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) in NSW, which has previously recommended it be upgraded.

"Upon the evidence placed before me, there does not appear to have been any lack of interest on the part of the RTA in the upgrading of these sections," he said.

"On the contrary, the work was planned, but missed out on funding.

"The RTA seems keen to address the problems posed by these sections of the highway, including by its express support for the making of a recommendation arising from these inquests."

Mr Milovanovich also called on the state and federal governments to launch an education campaign explaining that speed limits are calculated for drivers' safety.

At the time of the announcement Bega MP Andrew Constance welcomed the coroner's findings, saying he hoped NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal would act on them promptly.

"Thousands of people from around the state travel the highway and it's a shocker - it's a dangerous highway," he told AAP.

"The state government has ignored the bureaucrats for years and it's now time for Eric Roozendaal ** to take these recommendations, act on them and also put up funding himself to ensure that similar road work can be carried out in the future." ** Eric Roozendaal was the Labor Treasurer of New South Wales, Minister of State and Regional Development, Minister of Ports and Waterways, Minister for the Illawarra, and Special Minister of State To remind your readers the NSW Labor acted on the recommendation in 2010, prior to leaving government. The then NSW Labor Government had gone out to Tender on the Victoria Creek which meant that the project was well and truly underway prior to March 2011. At the same time the planning process and land acquisition in preparation for works at Dignams Creek was well underway. Unfortunately, the incoming Liberal Government decided to scrap the Dignams Creek plan and start the process again. This meant the project had to go back to square one. Dignams Creek residents were upset that the new plan developed by the Liberals would mean that the road would encroach on property to the economic detriment of land owners. Significant funds were poured into the new EIS, plan and consultation process. Tenders were then scheduled to be invited by June 2016 with an estimate of $50m

Fast forward to 2019, and more than 10 years after Andrew Constance made his original statement and Dignams Creek works are still incomplete. In the meantime, Mike Kelly was successful in getting the funding for the Bega Bypass and it was ultimately funded entirely by the Federal Labor Government. The money committed by the State that was not used on the bypass then went to a couple of roundabouts and other minor works on the Princes Hwy. Those other projects were therefore only funded as a result of the savings on the bypass and as they had been tagged for the Princes Hwy. The money saved was subsequently used for the Moruya roundabout and a couple of other minor improvements. There has been no major works initiated or started by the NSW Liberals on the Princes Highway hot spot areas within the Bega electorate, in the 8 years since they came in, with the exception of the Batemans Bay bridge plans which has been poorly planned and is yet to be executed. The recent announcement of $30m for the Link Road intersection with the Princes Highway in Batemans Bay was more about infrastructure than safety however some of the funds will go towards the Mad Mile however that work is still a long way off. Just setting the facts Name and address supplied


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