New highway is heaven for drivers
By Luke Prendergast
AFTER two years and $256 million, the Brunswick Heads to Yelgun upgrade of the Pacific Highway finally opened for traffic yesterday.
The bollards were still out in places, and for a short stretch traffic was confined to one lane and 60km/h, but cars and trucks streamed along the 8.6km stretch, free of the slowdown perennially caused by the bottleneck at the Brunswick Heads roundabout and latterly by roadwork-related reduced speed zones.
Fraser Hill, who lives at Bangalow and works at Tweed Heads, estimated the new road took more than 10 per cent off his travel time.
"I originally thought it would save four to five minutes off my trip, but I reckon it was probably six to seven minutes," he said.
"That's more than 10 per cent off my usual commute. It used to be about 40 minutes from Bangalow to my work, but it's now 32-33 minutes."
Mr Hill said traffic flowed far more freely and quickly than it had in the past, with an unexpected bonus.
"It's great. I was expecting it to be only 100 kilometres per hour because the existing road is a bit windy, but it's 110, except for where you enter and exit, where it's 60," he said.
"Other than getting into the single lane for the 60 zone, the double lanes allow you to just coast past slower drivers."
Mr Hill said he was sure the new highway would encourage others to make a similar commute to his.
"I think there are quite a few people who do the commute and especially when you combine it with the Tugun bypass there will be a lot of people who choose to live in the area and work in Brisbane, and the other way around.
"For people up north, Byron becomes a lot more accessible." Abigroup, which constructed the project on behalf of the RTA, expects the final touches around the entries and exits to be completed by the end of the year.
The opening of the new section means there is now 60km of continuous four-lane highway south of the Queensland border.
According to the NRMA, a trip between Surfers Paradise and Byron Bay takes about 80 minutes, although it can stretch to three hours during holidays.
Coupled with a 25-minute saving expected from the Tugun bypass when it opens next year, the Surfers-Byron trip could take just 45 minutes.