After more than 20 years, $15 billion in joint investment by the Australian and NSW Governments and more than 40,000 pairs of hands on the job, the final section of road paving has been completed on Australia’s biggest ever regional road project, the Pacific Highway upgrade.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the finish line for the duplication of the Pacific Highway between Hexham and the Queensland border was now firmly in sight, after the final truckloads of material from local quarries made their way on site to complete travel lanes.
“The greatest dividend from this investment is the improvement in safety for road users – whether you’re travelling on it every day or once a year on family holidays,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“The death toll on the highway has reduced by more than 50 per cent since work began to make the entire length four lane dual carriageway.
“It has been a remarkable feat of engineering. At completion, there will be 170 bridges over rivers, creeks, and floodplains, including new major bridges crossing the Clarence and Richmond rivers. The travel distance between Woolgoolga and Ballina will be about 13 kilometres shorter and about 25 minutes faster.
“We want to get people where they need to be sooner and safer and upon completion, the Pacific Highway upgrades will mean that people can get from Hexham to the Queensland border in two and a half hours less time than they would have previously, before the upgrades started.”
New South Wales Acting Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the Pacific Highway duplication was a huge undertaking, made even more challenging by bushfires and COVID-19. He thanked the workforce for getting the job done and the north coast of NSW for supporting the project.
“It is the culmination of over two decades of work on the Pacific Highway, but the final section, the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade, has been a mammoth task in itself,” Mr Toole said.
“Over the past five years, our workforce has moved more than 15 million cubic metres of earth, pumped 785,000 cubic metres of concrete and 240,000 tonnes of asphalt for paving on this final section. During peak construction, we’ve seen a record of 25,000 tonnes of material, or 800 truckloads, delivered in a single day.
“This section of the upgrade alone has been an important economic and employment driver for northern NSW, with 3000 people directly employed at its peak and many other indirect jobs created by the project.
“The project engaged 10 local quarries to supply the rock, sand and gravel required for pavement and other construction activities, including earthwork and drainage.”
The final trucks deposited materials to finish paving the travel lanes on the eight-kilometre Wells Crossing to Glenugie stretch of the upgrade.
The final section of the upgrade is expected to open to traffic in December 2020, with finishing works continuing into 2021. Motorists are encouraged to plan their journeys ahead, as traffic conditions continue to change and there will still be truck movements in and out of the area. around the upgrade.