Floods cut Pacific Highway at Tweed River

Sydney to Brisbane coastal route disrupted as storm pummels NSW

Floods cut Pacific Highway at Tweed River
Bruce Highway blocked at Sandy Gully 10km north of Bowen. Pic: Queensland Police


What is left of Cyclone Debbie is playing havoc with roads in north-east New South Wales, with Sydney and Brisbane cut off along the coastal route.

The Pacific Highway is closed between the Tweed River and Clothiers Creek Road and the Tweed River Way is as well.

Routes around Lismore and Casino are cut, with the Bruxner Highway closed along with Ellangowan Road and Summerland Way, both south of Casino and at Kyogle.

Five local areas, including Tweed, Lismore, Byron, Richmond Valley, and Kyogle and Ballina, have been declared natural disaster zones.

Roads and traffic updates from Traffic NSW (this copy was last updated 5pm on Friday, for latest updates visit Traffic NSW website):

  • The Pacific Motorway is expected to remain closed until at least Saturday afternoon

  • There is no access between the Gold Coast and NSW via coast roads. Motorists travelling north are advised to use the New England Highway, which is only accessed in northern NSW via the Gwydir Highway from Grafton                                     
  • The Pacific Motorway/Tugun Tunnel is closed southbound due to flooding of the Pacific Motorway at Chinderah, NSW. There is no access to the Gold Coast Airport or NSW via the M1 for motorists from Queensland

  • Bruxner Highway, between Casino to Goonellabah, and Mcleans Ridges Road closed to all vehicles in both directions until further notice

  • Bangalow Road between Dawson Street and Bexhill Village also closed due to flooding

  • Bangalow Rd is closed in both directions at Bexhill. Motorists are advised not to travel between Bangalow and Lismore or between Lismore and Ballina
  • Summerland Way: roads closed in both directions between Collins Creek Road and Runnymede Road, with a number of local roads are also closed so there is no diversion. Roads also closed in both directions between Ellangowan Road, Casino and Clarence Way, Koolkhan, with Whiporie and Ellangowan Road among worst-affected areas

  • Tweed Valley Way is closed in several locations, and a number of other local roads are closed by flooding in the area, including Murwillumbah to Stotts Creek.

Meanwhile, with parts of Bruce Highway and Peak Downs Highway closed, heavy vehicles will have no accessible route north to Mackay until further notice, Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) states.

While Peak Downs Highway remains closed at "multiple locations", authorities have blocked access to heavy vehicles over 5 tonnes combination gross weight on Bruce Highway at Granite Creek, between Rockhampton and Mackay.

However, Capricorn Highway and the Gregory Highway, north of Clermont, have re-opened following flash flooding on Wednesday.

Authorised emergency vehicles are being given access to Bruce Highway as relief and rescue operations continue in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie.

"Emergency relief vehicles and equipment transit through road closures on the Bruce Highway is being managed on a case-by-case basis, with prior approval required before proceeding," a spokesperson TMR states.

Heavy vehicles operators are advised to check local weather conditions on the TMR website before commencing their journey.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) recommends drivers and operators to use the LiveTraffic website to check their routes and identify appropriate detour routes before stepping out.

TMR repeats state main roads and road safety minister Mark Bailey’s warning on driving caution in the affected region.

"While a road might look safe to drive across, all road users are urged not to drive on a road that is flooded or that is damaged," the spokesperson says.

TMR is due to release an update on road access in affected areas later today.

Insurance move

Three days after declaring Cyclone Debbie a catastrophe in Queensland, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has done the same for northern NSW.

The insurance industry will now prioritise claims from storm and flood-affected policyholders beyond those affected when the Category 4 cyclone crossed the Queensland coast between Bowen and Airlie Beach.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said insurers were mobilising response teams to help households and businesses in northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland, where severe flooding was being reported.

He says insurers were closely monitoring the evolving disaster and were liaising closely with emergency services and governments in both states.

"I assure NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that the insurance industry is harnessing its resources to help customers in a fair and timely manner," he adds.

"Though 7,500 claims have been lodged from Queenslanders as of noon [Brisbane time] today, this is only the early stage of a natural disaster and I expect the insurance losses could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars as householders and businesses return to their properties and lodge claims.

"This level of catastrophe has not been seen since ex-TC Oswald in 2014, when storms and flooding affected large parts of Queensland and NSW and caused insurance losses of almost $1.2 billion."

Under the catastrophe declaration the ICA has already:

  • established an industry taskforce to address and identify any issues that arise
  • activated its disaster hotline – 1800 734 621 – helping policyholders if they are uncertain which insurer they are with, or have general inquiries about the claims process
  • mobilised ICA staff to work directly with local services and affected policyholders in affected regions.

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