IT is time the ACT Government took the initiative about the road over the Clyde Mountain; after all, it’s overwhelmingly Canberrans who use the road back and forth to the coast; and it’s Canberrans whose lives are in the greatest danger.
Such thoughts came home to roost recently as we attempted to leaven Canberra’s winter with a few days soaking up the winter sun at Tuross, the warm, beating heart of the Nature Coast. At the time, I was walking along Tuross Boulevard back from the village where I’d collected my “Sydney Morning Herald” (the only paper left worth reading).
On my right was the sea, the shining sea, replete with the first northbound whale of the season. On my left was the world’s best woman basketballer, Lauren Jackson, chatting with her equally charming (and formidable) parents on the veranda of their lovely home.
Word had just come through via Mr Grumpy, the newsagent, that the road over the Clyde had been closed by a rockfall at Pooh’s Corner. It would be at least three days before the council could clear it, so we were stranded in paradise.
We bore up. We did our walks. My wife painted a landscape. I finished a chapter of the new book and we made it back once they’d cleared the road.
But then three weeks later it happened again and this time a vital appointment meant we had to go the long way round via the pie shop at Nimmitabel. A minor inconvenience, you might say, and you’d be right. But there is another, tragic side to the Clyde Mountain story: all the people (at least 10 in the last 15 years by my count) who have been either killed or seriously injured on that scandalously unsafe section of the Kings Highway.
The answer, of course, is a tunnel through the mountain. Widening the road over the top only encourages speed and accidents. And it wouldn’t cut travelling time appreciably anyway. The tunnel would not only pay for itself in more efficient transport costs, it would make the coast accessible as a dormitory suburb of the capital and pave the way for a lifestyle – incorporating the NBN – that would set the standard for the civilised world.
Of course, Australian engineering and construction companies lack the expertise to do it efficiently. But that’s really the good news. It allows us to take that next step in our relations with China and give them the task of designing and building a tunnel from the Mongarlowe turnoff to Nelligen that would slice off a quarter of the travelling time from Canberra to the Bay. And it would prevent untold fatalities and terrible injury.
I’ve seen what they can do in China. They could finish the job in six months!
The NSW Government’s $5 million in its recent Budget is laughable. So Ms Gallagher and Mr Seselja, it’s over to you. There’s an election coming up with hardly a policy difference between you. Who’s prepared to grasp the nettle of the future?