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Duplication of Pacific Highway to be accelerated

Jim Lloyd Minister of Local Government and Roads
018TRS/Budget 9 May 2006

The 2006-07 Federal Budget sees a major boost to duplication work on the Pacific Highway.

The Australian Government is providing an additional $160.0 million in 2005-06 for the Pacific Highway, with matching funds to be provided by the New South Wales Government. These funds will be applied to accelerate projects agreed between the two governments to be completed by 2009.

The additional funds bring to $1.3 billion the total value of a new joint investment programme with New South Wales for the Highway until 2009. This builds on the $656.0 million the Australian Government has allocated to the Pacific Highway over the ten years to June 2006.

The Budget is also providing significant funding to a number of new and continuing projects in 2006-07.

The Australian Government Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Jim Lloyd, announced today that new projects to receive funding include the Bonville Deviation, south of Coffs Harbour, bypasses of Ballina in the north and Bulahdelah in the south, the Coopernook to Moorland section north of Taree and Stages 2 and 3 of the 34 km Karuah to Bulahdelah upgrade.

"In the north, work is under way on the Brunswick Heads to Yelgun upgrade at a total cost of $256.0 million. Planning for reconstruction of the notorious Sextons Hill section at Banora Point and the Sapphire to Woolgoolga section will be funded this year. It is hoped both projects can be ready to start in 2007-08.

"By the middle of 2006, 44 per cent of the 677 km highway from the F3 to the Queensland border will be completed to dual carriageway standard, or will be under construction with that objective paramount. Planned works involve another 64 km of duplication by 2009 and the new Australian and New South Wales Government funding will add to this," he said.

"As well as providing additional funding of $160.0 million in 2005-06, the Australian Government has brought forward $75.0 million from later years. In 2006-07, the Australian Government will allocate $143.9 million to the Pacific Highway Upgrading. This will be matched by state government funds.

"Construction of the 8.6 km Brunswick Heads to Yelgun project, now under way, receives extra funding ahead of its opening next year. This will result in continuous duplication of the Pacific Highway between Brisbane and Byron Bay.

"In 2006-07, we will provide funds for the Ballina bypass ahead of construction starting in late 2007. Tenders have been called for the initial embankment construction across the Richmond River floodplain."

Mr Lloyd said completion of four lanes northbound almost as far as the Oxley Highway turn-off to Port Macquarie was the next objective. "Together, both governments will deliver continuous four-lane highway conditions for a distance of 330 km north of Sydney within four years, ending the holiday bottlenecks. We plan to have the entire coastal highway built to four-lane standard by 2016," he said.

"A report on how this can be achieved is being prepared and will be available to both governments around October. A complementary Sydney-Brisbane AusLink corridor strategy, including rail solutions for relieving traffic growth, is also being undertaken this year," he said.

The Australian and New South Wales Governments have allocated $18.8 million to kick-start the 8.5 km Bulahdelah bypass, incorporating new twin bridges over the Myall River.

"In the south, the bypass will connect to the Karuah to Bulahdelah Sections 2 and 3, where construction will start later this year. It will link in the north to the Bulahdelah to Coolongolook project, completed in 1999," Mr Lloyd said.

"By the time the Bulahdelah bypass is constructed, the Karuah to Bulahdelah Sections 1, 2 and 3 and the Bundacree Creek to Possum Brush projects will all be open to traffic," he said.

"The Australian and New South Wales governments have agreed to jointly fund the Coopernook to Moorland section. Construction of the Moorland to Herons Creek section will then be all that is needed to complete duplication to the Port Macquarie turnoff.

"Further north, the focus will be on fixing the Bonville Deviation 'black spot', near Coffs Harbour, where the construction contract with Abigroup Contractors Pty Ltd is being finalised."

"A total of 45 projects have opened to traffic since 1996, when the joint Pacific Highway Upgrading Programme began. Motorists are travelling 233 km of four-lane highway built since then. Projects completed so far have seen travel times cut between Hexham and the Queensland border by around 55 minutes for cars and just over an hour for heavy vehicles.

"Planning for duplication of all remaining two-lane sections of the highway should be completed by mid 2009," Mr Lloyd said.

Details of future Pacific Highway projects are attached.

Media contacts:
Mr Lloyd's office Fiona Telford 02 6277 7060 / 0407 908 504

AusLink Backgrounder - Pacific Highway

Karuah to Bulahdelah, Section 1

Length: 12 km
Estimated cost: $114.0 million

Construction of the 12 km Karuah to Bulahdelah Section 1 is well advanced. It will transform a two-lane highway into a four-lane divided highway. The work is costing $114.0 million and is jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments. Work is due to be completed in August 2006. The project begins at the northern end of the Karuah Bypass which was opened to traffic in September 2004.

The balance of Australian Government funding will be paid in 2005-06.

Karuah to Bulahdelah, Section 2 and 3

Length: 23 km
Estimated cost: $227.0 million

The Australian and New South Wales Governments have agreed to fund Sections 2 and 3 of this project, comprising a further 23 km of road. Tenders have closed and are expected to be awarded in July. Construction will start soon after.

The project involves eight twin bridges, five intersections and two new rest areas for light and heavy vehicles. Expected to be completed around September 2009, this project will extend dual carriageways from Sydney to about 3.5 km south of Bulahdelah.

The 12 km Karuah to Bulahdelah Section 1 is due to open about August 2006.

Bulahdelah bypass

Length: 8.5 km
Estimated cost: $165.0 million

A route has been selected, environmental assessments undertaken and further planning is proceeding. The upgrade involves about 8.5 km of four-lane divided highway.

It will connect the already upgraded Bulahdelah to Coolongolook section of the Pacific Highway, 4 km north of Bulahdelah, to the approved Karuah to Bulahdelah upgrade project, 3.5 km to the south of the town. Major interchanges will be provided to either side of town, allowing safe and convenient access to Bulahdelah for highway motorists. The bypass will run east of Bulahdelah. When built, it will result in traffic numbers passing through town dropping from 11,000 vehicles per day to 2000 per day.

Bundacree Creek to Possum Brush

Length: 9.7 km
Estimated cost: $115.0 million

Contractors Baulderstone Hornibrook began upgrading the Pacific Highway between Bundacree Creek and Possum Brush in September 2004. Work is expected to finish in July 2006. The project involves construction of a divided four-lane highway, with a major interchange at Nabiac connecting to the local and regional road network. Twin two-lane bridges over the Wallamba River replace the narrow two-lane steel truss bridge, originally constructed in the 1950s.

The upgrade facilitates access to the village of Nabiac so that it may continue to attract highway trade. Under the design, build and maintain contract, Baulderstone Hornibrook will be required to maintain the road condition for 10 years after opening.

The balance of Australian Government funding will be paid out in 2005-06.

Coopernook to Moorland duplication

Length: 10.3 km
Estimated cost: $95.0 million

The Australian and New South Wales governments have committed $6.4 million each to complete planning for the 10.2 km duplication of the Pacific Highway at Moorland, north of Taree. The project extends north from the state-funded Coopernook bypass, which opened in March. Design features include duplicating the existing highway for 7.6 km on its current alignment and a new dual carriageway 2.7 km bypass of Moorland.

Eventually, the Coopernook to Moorland duplication will connect to the Moorland to Herons Creek project, which is at the environmental assessment phase.

Bonville Deviation

Length: 9.8 km
Estimated cost: $217.0 million

Interim safety works are under way at Bonville, south of Coffs Harbour. Meanwhile, Abigroup Contractors Pty Ltd is the preferred tenderer for the upgrade of about 10 km of the Pacific Highway between Perrys Road and Lyons Road. A start date for construction of the Bonville deviation will be announced soon.

The project will complete 17.5 km of dual carriageway between Coffs Harbour and Urunga. In turn, this links to the proposed Macksville to Urunga upgrade. New twin bridges will be built over Bonville, Reedys and Pine creeks.

To date, $15.0 million has been spent on the Bonville upgrade, which is now being funded jointly by the Australian and New South Wales Governments.

Ballina bypass

Length: 12.4 km
Estimated cost: $331.0 million

The Australian Government has committed an initial $29.0 million to the Ballina bypass, to be matched by the state government. The bypass will be a four-lane divided highway, widening to six lanes between the Bruxner Highway and Teven Road. Interchanges will be constructed at the Bruxner Highway, Teven Road, Cumbalum and Ross Lane. Twin bridges will be built over Duck Creek, Emigrant Creek (three locations) and Sandy Flat Creek. The bypass will be above the 1-in-20 year flood level.

In the south, it will connect to the Woodburn to Ballina project and run north to the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale project, for which a route selection study is under way.

The 12.4 km bypass will be significantly shorter than the current 19 km route through the urban areas of Ballina and will offer a travel time saving up to 11.5 minutes for Pacific Highway traffic.

The initial funding will pay for construction of embankments across the floodplain and tenders have now been called for this work. It is expected the main construction tenders for roadworks and bridges can be called in mid 2007.

The construction timetable for the Ballina bypass was not governed by funding, but by engineering constraints. Due to the deep, soft soils along the bypass route, the levels of the earthworks due to compaction are likely to drop up to 4.5 metres around Emigrant Creek North and up to three metres around Teven Road. To deliver a road meeting today's standards for a long-lasting surface, it is essential the embankments are stable before the final road pavement and connecting bridges are built.

Brunswick Heads to Yelgun

Length: 8.6 km
Estimated cost: $256.0 million

Construction is under way on the last section of the Pacific Highway that will complete the freeway-standard conditions from Brisbane south to the Byron Bay turnoff at Ewingsdale. It is due to open to traffic next year. The 8.6 km project includes duplication of the Brunswick Heads bypass and construction of balanced cantilever bridges across the Brunswick River.

The project is costing $256.0 million, jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales Governments. The Australian Government contribution is $126.9 million.