The Pacific Highway upgrade – Australia’s largest regional road infrastructure project – has reached a major milestone, with the most recent section of the upgrade between Woolgoolga to Ballina now 85 per cent complete.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said 2020 would be the year of openings for the project, as the final link in the Pacific Highway upgrade comes to a close.
The past 12 months have seen approximately 8km of dual carriageway opened to traffic by December 2019, including a new bridge over the Clarence River at Harwood.
The bridge is the longest crossing on the upgrade and opened as part of a 4km section of road between Farlows Flat and Serpentine Channel.
The upgrade is on track to be completed by the end of 2020 and new sections will continue to open progressively as they are completed.
NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Paul Toole, said the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade would take 25 minutes off journey times once complete and contribute to smoother, safer and more reliable trips along the North Coast.
“With the opening of the bridge at Harwood last year, we are really moving into the final leg of the project,” Mr Toole said.
“The team worked hard to have the new section of highway opened before the end of the year, allowing holidaymakers to get to their destination faster and with fewer delays.”
NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads and Infrastructure, Chris Gulaptis, said the new bridge had been well received by locals.
“Motorists are enjoying the smooth journey over the bridge, as traffic is no longer required to stop for bridge lifts for vessels on the river,” Mr Gulaptis said.
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the upgraded highway would continue to open in stages as completed.
“We appreciate the community is eager to know when new sections are expected to open and we will keep people informed about the timing and staging of traffic changes,” Mr Hogan said.
“Construction has progressed at an unprecedented scale and pace since the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade started with more than 3,300 workers employed at the highest peak and many more indirect jobs created.”
The Federal and NSW Governments are jointly funding the $4.95 billion Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade on an 80:20 basis.