Pacific Highway upgrade passes half-way mark

Six monthly progress report says 52 percent is up to motorway standard since December

March 28, 2013

Despite public wrangling over funding issues, the Federal and New South Wales governments have combined to release a ‘report card’ on Pacific Highway duplication developments over the six months to December.

The headline point is that 346 km of the Highway – about 52 percent – had been upgraded to ‘motorway standard’ and duplicated following the completion of work on the Ballina Bypass as well as the upgrades at Glenugie and Banora Point.

Another 73 km is under construction: Bulahdelah Bypass; Herons Creek to Stills Road; Kempsey Bypass; Sapphire to Woolgoolga; Devils Pulpit and Tintenbar to Ewingsdale.

A further five projects, covering totalling about 100 km, were being prepared for construction: Oxley Highway to Kundabung; Kundabung to Kempsey; the Frederickton to Eungai; Warrell Creek to Nambucca; and Nambucca to Urunga.

The environmental impact statement for the 155 km section between Woolgoolga and Ballina was placed on display for community comment.

"In the six months to the end of December 2012, $528 million (60.5 percent of the 2012/13 budget) had been spent, well in front of the pro-rata rate," the report states.

Travel times for commercial vehicles were varied but the reasons for this were not defined.

"Travel time surveys conducted at the end of 2012 show average travel time savings are slightly decreased for heavy vehicles and increased slightly for light vehicles," the report states.

"These changes are not considered to be significant and most likely reflect natural variation in traffic and conditions between surveys.

"When examining trends in travel time, increases in traffic levels and areas of reduced speed limits (such as the 50km/h urban speed limit in towns yet to be bypassed) need to be considered.

"Travel times are expected to decrease by a further 10 to 15 minutes when the Kempsey and Bulahdelah bypasses are completed in the first half of 2013, with more savings expected during peak holiday times."

The downward trend in fatal crashes on the highway since 2003 has continued, to be the second lowest in 40 years for the period.

The six months to June should see the Bulahdelah bypass, Kempsey bypass and the Bago Road interchange on the Herons Creek to Stills Road upgrade open to traffic.

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