The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So said Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. And so say us with the news $10 million has been allocated in the NSW budget for Princes Highway safety improvements south of Nowra.
The most significant part of the suite of improvements will be the construction of a two-lane roundabout at the notorious Island Point Road intersection, scene of many tragic accidents over the years.
The roundabout will no doubt improve safety but should also reduce travel times from the Bay and Basin into Nowra by enhancing access onto the highway from Island Point Road.
It is heartening that almost three months to the day since the launch of the FIX IT NOW campaign we are seeing evidence our message is not only being heard but acted upon. It’s a tiny step – an adequate highway upgrade will involve billions of dollars – but it’s a step in the right direction, for which South Coast MP Shelley Hancock, a vocal supporter of FIX IT NOW, should be applauded.
The roundabout, sealing of shoulders, widening of medians, installation of rumble strips and roadside barriers will make a difference in the short term but Mrs Hancock recognises they’re essentially interim measures. She’s still pushing for an 80/20 funding formula from the federal government – and it seems she has the backing of Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis.
On the back of the NSW funding announcement, Mrs Sudmalis pushed the case on Sky News for federal funding of highway improvements, saying the important artery had been neglected for too long. Establishing a unified voice advocating for federal funding is one of the aims of the FIX IT NOW campaign. So we were delighted to see our local MP pushing the cause.
With the Nowra bridge funding secured – and every indication the NSW government will allocate its matching contribution in next Tuesday’s state budget – Mrs Sudmalis has vowed to make the highway her priority. We will encourage her every step of the way.
While these piecemeal improvements are welcome – particularly addressing the Island Point Road intersection – so much more needs to be done if the Princes Highway is to be rendered safe.
We look forward to further evidence of the federal and state politicians working together to achieve this outcome. Our lives depend on it.