Major upgrades of a section of the New England Highway have commenced near Bolivia Hill in NSW.

The Bolivia Hill Upgrade is being jointly funded, with the Australian Government committing $55 million and the New South Wales Government committing $25 million.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael McCormack, said the $80 million project would widen and straighten the highway where it traverses the lower reaches of Bolivia Hill.

“Around Australia the Liberal and Nationals’ Government is focused on upgrading roads to ensure people can get home sooner and safer,” Mr McCormack said.

“The New England Highway—Bolivia Hill Upgrade project is set to improve safety and efficiency levels for all users of this important freight corridor, which is also used as an alternative to the Pacific Highway.”

NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, said the existing New England Highway in the Bolivia Hill area had a poor crash history due to narrow lanes and road shoulders, a rock face on one side and a steep rock valley on the other.

“This project will include more than two kilometres of new road, a new 320-metre-long bridge, wider lanes in each direction and widened road shoulders,” Mrs Pavey said.

Federal Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said the highway was a vital road for the Glen Innes and Tenterfield communities as well as passing tourists and freight vehicles.

“Building good transport links for heavy vehicles means that local producers can be sure their produce will reach market in a safe and cost-competitive manner,” Mr Joyce said.

“I’ve been fighting for the electorate to get this project off the ground so it’s great to see work underway to improve our corridor of commerce that is the New England Highway.”

NSW Member for Lismore, Thomas George, said the Bolivia Hill project would save lives.

“This section of the New England Highway has seen a number of crashes over the past decade, which is why the Australian and NSW governments are working together to make this stretch of road safer and more efficient for all users,” Mr George said.

The project is expected to be completed in late 2020, weather permitting.

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