IF only father and widower Les Peterson could have been there to witness the official opening of new section of the Princes Highway at Victoria Creek.
His memory was evoked when Member for Bega Andrew Constance last Wednesday officially opened the final section of the $40 million Princes Highway upgrade at Victoria Creek, 13km south of Narooma.
Les lost his 18-year-old son Darren when he collided with a milk tanker at the old northern approach to the creek crossing in 2007.
And then his wife and Darren’s mother Vicki was killed less than a year later when she was involved in a head-on collision at Dignams Creek while on her way to visit Darren’s grave.
Les testified before the Coroner in the push to get the alignment funded but passed away before he could see the project completed.
“Les passed away the day before the minister signed the papers authorising the project,” Mr Constance said.
“I think it is only appropriate that we pay tribute to him on this day as he was the one that lobbed up, having the courage to talk about what happened to his family.”
The section on the south end of the project linking Central Tilba to the new bridge at Victoria Creek opened to traffic at around 3.30pm on Wednesday afternoon.
Also attending were supervisors from Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and the road building company Seymour Whyte, as well as Eurobodalla Shire Council mayor Lindsay Brown.
Neighbouring residents Barry and Cynthia Van Niekerk of the Whistlestop property on Sunnyside Road brought down their classic 1929 Whippet for the occasion.
Seymour White superintendent Wayne Milne said he was particularly pleased that the project finished so soon given the heavy rain in its early days.
“2mm of rain was enough to stop everything,” he said.
The hard work of all the contractors, including Hewatt Earthworks, gravel supplier Dave Schmidt and administrator Keryn Bobbin, was praised, with particular credit given to the environmental engineers who ensured nearby waterways were protected during construction.
“Working with the RMS (Roads and Maritime Services) on this project has been more like a partnership or alliance as they were proactive and helpful at all times during the project,” Mr Milne said.
Mr Constance in opening the project also recognised the Tilba Rural Fire Service brigade for responding to all the accidents on the old section of highway.
He also said Narooma had benefited greatly from the injection of cash from the hundreds of workers on the project.
“The project was completed around six months ahead of schedule and will improve existing highway conditions, making it a much safer road for motorists,” Mr Constance said.
“More than three kilometres were upgraded between Narooma Road, also known as the Old Princes Highway, and Corkhill Drive at Central Tilba, 13km south of Narooma.
“Work included removing a number of tight bends, adding an overtaking lane in both directions and demolishing and rebuilding a new bridge over Victoria Creek.
“The upgraded road will improve road safety and traffic flow for motorists.
“Some sections of the old Princes Highway will be revegetated while the remainder of the road will become a local road for residential access.
“This important work brings us one step closer to completing the $40 million Princes Highway upgrade,” Mr Constance said.
The southern end of Sunnyside Road remains closed while the new access point to the highway is completed and some minor work is being completed now that the new highway section is open. This includes:
* Building two intersections on Victoria Creek Road, formerly the Princes Highway
* Road resurfacing near the Princes Highway and Corkhill Drive at Central Tilba
* Road widening from the temporary work at the northern intersection with Victoria Creek Road
* Demolition of the old bridge at Victoria Creek
This work is expected to take until around the end of February, weather permitting.
Les would also no doubt be pleased that plans for another realignment, 14 kilometres to the south at Dignams Creek are well underway, although this project too has its unique challenges.
Victoria Creek project “side issues”
WITH a $40-45 million highway realignment project there are bound to be a few issues to sort through with neighbouring residents.
This has been the case with the Victoria Creek section where the Roads and Maritime Services has been dealing with everything from calls to save the old bridge to suggestions for names for side roads.
One of the issues the RMS has successful dealt with for now was replacing tourism signs pointing to the Tilba Valley Winery, which were initially removed as part of the upgrade.
While the winery owner is satisfied that the signs have gone back in, RMS project manager Ryan Whiddon said any permanent arrangement would need to be approved by the State Government’s Tourist Attraction Signposting Assessment Committee (TASAC).
Another issue raised, this time by local resident Sean Burke, is the naming of the side roads off the project and his letter can be viewed in full in today’s letters section.
Mr Burke was suggested the side road that leads off Sunnyside Road would have been better to be named “Kent Farm Road” rather than Victoria Creek Road as it was not near the actual waterway.
But Mr Whiddon has told Mr Burke and the Narooma News that the naming of roads was overseen by a local government road naming committee and any suggestions should be directed at the Eurobodalla Shire Council.
Yet another issue has been the ongoing call by locals including Sunnyside Road residents Roz and Declan Wood for a bus stop on the Princes Highway at Tilba, as residents previously had to travel all the way to either Narooma or the Bermagui turn-off at Tilba Tilba.
The good news is that Mr Whiddon has now told the Woods that there will be two bus bays incorporated in the junctions of Sheringham Lane and, Corkhill Drive and the Princes Highway.
“The bus bays will both be placed north of the junction and Ryan says that when completed he will contact Premier Bus Service to inform them that this facility is available for use. We presume the ‘VicRail’ bus can use them as well,” Mrs Wood said.
This information is being passed onto other local residents involved in the petition for the bus stops.
Unfortunately the calls for the old bridge at Victoria Creek to be kept in place does not look like a possibility, with the RMS saying it would be too expensive to maintain and was not crucial for emergency access as residents on either side of the 1930s era bridge could still access the highway.
Finally, the next realignment project to the south at Dignams Creek has the RMS still negotiating with local residents over the new proposed westerly alignment impacting on their properties.