Pacific Highway on-ramp stalemate frustrates residents
BALLINA Heights residents have long-awaited the construction of a southbound on-ramp to the Pacific Motorway at the Cumbalum interchange.
Senior vice-president of the Cumbalum Residents Association Alan Veacock says the stalemate was not only an inconvenience to many residents who drive through Ballina to get to work in Lismore each day, but had placed residents in danger.
The flood-prone roads have prevented them from leaving the area ‒ when Tamarind Drive at Deadmans Creek Road and the northbound interchange went under water the only way out was up the exit ramp.
"It's frustrating," Mr Veacock said.
"What we've heard so far is that it won't happen until the entire Pacific Motorway upgrade is completed."
The stalemate has also stymied commercial development plans according to Mr Veacock.
"Some years ago, Woolworths planned a supermarket here which they've canned," he said.
"One of the reasons given is there's no exit and entry ramp."
Mr Veacock says the closest residents came to securing an on-ramp was at the 2019 federal election, when then Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese promised it would be built if Labor won the election.
"We have just about every politician around here on the case," Mr Veacock said.
"But it's in an immovable position. Tamara Smith has tried and Justine Elliot has done her level best to try and do something, but they don't have much sway."
When asked if he would encourage his state colleagues to push for the $20 million upgrade, Nationals Member of the Legislative Council Ben Franklin was noncommittal.
"Have you asked the Member for Ballina?" he said.
"Of course it's something I'm supportive of, but my role is a statewide role.
"Obviously the Roads and Maritime Services have their priorities, and there is only a finite amount of money for roads projects."