Bypass brings peace at Christmas
IT will be "Ballina's version of the Sydney Harbour Bridge opening".
The main part of the long-awaited $640 million Ballina bypass will finally open to traffic on Wednesday, December 7.
The section between the Teven Rd interchange and Cumbalum - which bypasses the town - will be open to traffic just 10 days after the community celebration next Sunday.
Project manager Steve Tyler made the announcement at yesterday's Ballina Chamber of Commerce and Industry meeting.
He said the Bruxner Hwy-to-Teven interchange section would be open by Christmas and the new Bruxner Hwy alignment would open in early 2012.
"Within the first year of the bypass being open we will need to do some asphalt overlays on some parts," Mr Tyler said.
"We'll also be removing the site office and constructing the Ballina rest area, which has the potential to be turned into a full service centre if needed. It's starting to look like a real highway."
The news has been welcomed by the businesses and residents, with many saying they didn't think it would happen so soon.
Chairman of the Ballina Bypass Action Group, Ballina Shire councillor Alan Brown, said they had been lobbying for the bypass for more than 10 years.
"We're extremely pleased it's coming online so early," Cr Brown said.
"It's going to beat Christmas, relieving Ballina of a huge volume of traffic over the holiday period.
"We formed our group in 2001.
"Even before that, probably for 10 years, there was a huge groundswell of support for a bypass from the community.
"We got together a group of people who were prepared to work together and put pressure on governments to make this happen.
"We got to the stage where we had an audience with the then-deputy prime minister, the premier and local MPs."
Cr Brown said stalwarts of the action group included Neil Saines, Mark Raguse and Keith Barry.
He also said a couple of hardworking members didn't live to see the bypass become a reality.
"There were a lot of us who thought we'd never see it," he said.
"But to see the bypass finally opened and to celebrate it will mean a lot - it's very exciting and I am very pleased."
- Two million cubic metres of earthworks and 150,000 cubic metres of concrete.
- Low-noise asphalt will be laid over the already opened section near Cumbalum.
- All structural work is now finished, with defect inspections being done.