The Road ahead is clear
The Australian Government announced last week that four construction firms have been awarded contracts for the detailed design work on the remaining sections of the 155 kilometre Pacific Highway upgrade. The work will involve finalising road features such drainage, underpasses and culverts to minimise the impact on local wildlife.
Jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade is Australia's largest regional infrastructure project and the last highway link between Hexham and the Queensland border to be upgraded to four lanes.
Many new job opportunities are expected for local businesses to join the workforce in completing the project. It is estimated that 2500 direct construction jobs have already been created due to the development and as work increases this number could rise to around 4000 positions at its peak.
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay said a workforce of more than 450 road designers would also be mobilised to complete the work so building can start next year.
It was reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the design work has been divided into four sections to fast-track construction, ensuring the final section of the Pacific Highway upgrade opens to traffic by the end of the decade as promised.
Key features and benefits of the project include:
- Improved travel times due to the increased speed limit and reduction in highway length.
- Improved travel safety through better flood immunity and divided carriageways.
- Two lanes in each direction and room to add a third lane if required in the future.
- 40 bridges over rivers, creeks and floodplains with structures designed to encourage animals to safely cross wildlife corridors.
Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast Chris Gulaptis commeneted that 400 kilometres of the Pacific Highway have now been upgraded and that once work is completed, it will improve road safety by reducing accidents by more than 25 per cent.