‘30 years of hard work’: Pacific Highway upgrade is complete
From The Daily Examiner is a six-part series that takes listeners on an emotional journey to reveal the full story behind the 1989 Cowper bus disaster near Grafton. Told through the eyes of those who witnessed the horror, some sharing their story for the first time, each episode explores a different aspect of the event to reveal a tangled web of trauma and negligence, and how Australia's worst road disaster at the time was the catalyst for the nation's largest road infrastructure project, the Pacific Highway Upgrade.
PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has told of the relief he has opening the Pacific Highway upgrade after hearing the horror stories of the notorious black spot in his youth.
The 657km highway upgrade took from 1996 to 2020, and received more than $15 billion dollars invested but has already begun to decrease the road toll, which Page MP Kevin Hogan described as "multi decade lows".
Speaking at the New Italy Museum for the grand opening, the Prime Minister regaled of the tragic crashes he used to see on the news during the festive season from the North Coast.
"(Growing up) as people of my generation know, it doesn't matter if you grew up in Sydney or on the north coast of northern NSW, that Pacific Highway has many sad stories, tragic, terrible stories," Mr Morrison said.
"Families going away for Christmas holidays or Easter holidays and it ending in terrible tragedy, and I remember watching it on the news when I was younger as the years went on people would say 'someone needs to do something about this.
"30 years of hard work, 30 years of commitment, now gets us to this stage where we can come together and say, 'we got that done'."
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack joined the Prime Minister in remembering just how traumatic the crashes on the Pacific Highway used to be before the upgrade.
"I come from Wagga Wagga but I can remember coming up here on summer holidays and the road was a goat track, we fixed that," he said.
"The road toll is now halved, you can travel from Hexham to the Queensland border, two and a half hours less travel time but you're driving on a four-lane duplicated highway not the corridor of carnage that once was."
"It's not the road that the prime minister said bought tears to his eyes when he read of the stories and heard of the tales (from the highway)."