Accident prompts open letter to MP

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Dear Peter,

Yet another head-on accident seriously injured two people on a notorious stretch of the Barton Highway yesterday. I drove past it, and was almost sick. Two lives in the balance, all of us impacted. As our new local member, we call on you to commit to a full duplication of Barton Highway, completed within three years.

We are told to be patient, to drive to the conditions, to wait twenty years, to endure endless bandaid roadworks, and then it will be considered.

Well, we are done with waiting.

We are done with politicians condescendingly offering $15 million here and there to “fix” the road. We are done with being treated like second-class citizens. We are done with innocent people dying. Because country lives matter. Our lives matter. And we want to get home safely to our children each night, if that is alright with you.

Construction within three years is not unrealistic.

Only 33 kilometres needs duplicating. It is not the Nullabor. And there is a precedent you cannot ignore. In February 2002, the NSW Minister for Planning authorised the construction of the M7 in Western Sydney. 41 kms of dual carriageway with many complex interchanges for about $2 billion. It opened in December 2005, less than three years later.

Now that you are Assistant Cabinet Secretary and Assistant Minister to the Minister for Finance, you have more access than most to the consolidated revenue fund. You can also pick up the phone and convince the NSW Minister for Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, to jointly fund the duplicated Barton Highway in time to cut the ribbon for the 2019 Federal Election. $500 million each from the State and Federal Governments, $1 billion to save lives, and improve productivity and create jobs in the Valley at the same time.

In the 2016 Federal Election, the Eden-Monaro candidate who fully funds delivery of the Barton duplication within three years will win the closely fought Yass Valley election booths. This may be enough to win the seat, and we will soon find out.

We have all seen money appear out of thin air when there is political will or electoral desperation. The technical planning is done. The community consultation is done. A construction tender is the next step, it’s practically shovel-ready.

And the Yass Valley has been ignored for too long.

Not one dollar of taxpayers money has been spent on any significant infrastructure in the last 25 years – since the Hume Highway bypass was built. If I am wrong, then point me to the building or infrastructure that shows where this mythical government expenditure has been lavished?

Basic services are still lacking: Murrumbateman needs a school, Yass High School is well over capacity, and Yass needs a new hospital. Thousands of kids go by bus to Canberra every day. Will it take a school bus accident to get the road we deserve? Kids lives matter too.

The recent NSW RMS Report on the Barton was a joke, and an insult to our intelligence. It was a charade of government to convince us that a staged (ie. bandaid) solution is the best solution. It offered solutions for pedestrians! Because so many people walk to work in Canberra from Yass.

More than 10,000 cars a day use the Barton. How many more do you need?

The report was a forgone conclusion in a safe conservative seat, but now we are in a marginal seat, only a fool would ignore what is so obvious to all. It just needs to be done. Because country lives matter.

Rebecca Duncan, YASS  NSW  2582

Katharyn Brine

Editor / Publisher

6 Comments

  1. Kay clayton

    March 1, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Congratulations to Rebecca Duncan for her straightforward and to the point letter re the Barton Highway.

  2. Polly Ball

    March 1, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Great letter Rebecca, let’s hope it doesn’t fall on deaf ears. I collected my neighbours children from the bus yesterday, they had seen the accident, they were very shaken by the scene. It so easily could have been one of the school buses involved and with no seatbelt on the buses the results could have been even more tragic. Country Lives matter, we should all be using our vote at the upcoming election to prove that.

  3. Jacquie Tewes

    March 1, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Fantastic letter and really hits home about the need we have to duplicate the Barton Highway. It lists all the reasons, background and costings – no room to ignore or belittle the argument made. I would suggest a copy be sent to our Council and the PM!

  4. Jennie Nicholson

    March 2, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    My daughter, who has had p plates for just over a month, and who is in Year 12, was just ahead of this accident – she saw it in her rear vision mirror. She has now said that she will not live in Murrumbateman and drive to work in canberra each day when she finishes her education. How many more accidents will it take to get this fixed?

  5. Mike Reid

    March 3, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    well said. The Department of Education stated over 40 years ago that if we got 90 kids they’d look at reopening Murrumbateman Primary. 40 Years on with over 500 primary school kids they are now saying we should have 1,000 (just like Sydney? well not quite, they’ve build a school to house 500 kids based on demographic data and so far 130 have turned up – meanwhile we have the numbers and their “demographics” say we don’t). All about bang for buck but not community, lives or quality of life. The Yass Valley has been left in the lurch too long we count! Lets make this election show that we care.

  6. Matt Townsend

    March 10, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    RMA personnel made themselves available for comment at a Murrumbateman Market in November last year where the planning and logic behind the delays in the Barton Highway duplication were on offer to the public. On engaging with them it was apparent that although the Barton Highway is very busy during commuter peak times – totalling about 12000 transits per day – it was well behind other regional highways elsewhere in NSW which are approaching 20000 transits per day. This would seem to put the Barton duplication a long way out, with substantially more residents and commuters before we cross the threshold. However, transits per day can’t be the only criterion for upgrade. Surely accident risk (as shown by accidents/transits/day for instance) should factor in here. We see the Barton Highway as poor because we are confronted with the trauma of the accidents. Is the Barton worse for accident risk than the other highways? If so then there is a basis for getting the duplication in place. If not, we would be better served by driver attention to tail gating, lane keeping and phone/text avoidance.

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