Tuesday’s tragedy on the Princes Highway north of Berry adds even more urgency to the task of completing the upgrade. Any loss of life on our roads is deeply regrettable; to have lives taken on a stretch of highway so close to being made all that much safer compounds the pain.
Only days ago in the NSW parliament, Kiama MP Gareth Ward was prosecuting the case for funding the final section of the upgrade from Berry to Bomaderry. It was his mission, he said, to see local roads made safe.
He has made it clear that in order to complete that mission he would pester whoever held government in Canberra to pitch in and make available funds to see the project through. He knows, as do we, that for too long Princes Highway funding has been a political football punted between Canberra and Macquarie Street.
Well, it’s past time to end that game.
Since taking the reins in 2011, the NSW Coalition government has ploughed millions into the highway upgrade while Canberra has not contributed a cent.
Yes, there has been $10 million invested in planning for the replacement bridge over the Shoalhaven but so much more is needed.
We say, it’s time for the bickering and finger pointing to stop. We saw it when Labor was in power in Canberra and we’ve seen it with the Coalition at the helm.
Let’s call it out now: Canberra needs to step up and local federal member Ann Sudmalis needs to get together with her Kiama counterpart and work on a strategy to get the necessary funding. Not fight, not point score. Work together.
In the meantime, we plead for motorists to take extra care on all roads, especially in these wet and slippery conditions.
Already 85 lives have been lost this year, 10 fewer than the same time last year but still too many.
For the families who have lost loved ones, stark numbers never tell the full story of unimaginable loss. The scars from every single tragedy on our roads will take years to heal, if they mend at all.
For the emergency services personnel who attend these accidents, often in the most appalling conditions, the trauma witnessed will snatch them from their sleep for years to come.
Anything that helps prevent future tragedies like Tuesday’s is worth it, including funding for safer roads.