Albury residents protest against freeway
By Karen Burns
CANBERRA — Sixty people travelled from Albury on the NSW-Victoria border to Parliament House on June 21 to protest against the federal government's refusal to consider alternatives to extending the Hume Freeway through the centre of Albury. Bruce Gardiner from Save our City (SOC) said the group has been fighting the plan for four years.
The proposed extension (called an "internal bypass") will require noise barriers four to nine metres high along the length of the city. It will mean more than 3000 semi-trailers and tankers per day passing through the city.
Surveys by Albury City Council (1997), the Border Mail newspaper (September 1998) and SOC (1998) show that the majority of Albury residents want an external bypass. However, Albury City Council, Wodonga Council, and the NSW and Victorian governments favour the internal freeway as a means of getting a second river crossing funded federally.
SOC says that the impact statements for the freeway have been biased, ignored residents' concerns and not considered alternative options. It argues that the increased traffic and speed limits could result in more serious accidents, more chemical, toxic and other pollutant spills, and substantially more noise and diesel fume pollution.
Rallies and marches against the internal freeway have attracted up to 5000 locals. On June 14, residents blockaded the highway for four hours in the freezing rain to protest against the federal and state governments' failure to respond to their concerns.