Next stage of Pacific Hwy upgrade on the horizon
ENVIRONMENTAL approvals have been granted to the $565.6 million Pacific Hwy upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina and now preconstruction works have commenced.
The 155km project, jointly funded by the State and Federal governments, stands as Australia's longest major road project.
Federal and State road ministers and North Coast local members this week gave a commitment the project would be finished by the end of the decade.
"With environmental approvals granted last month and early works underway, we are progressing towards construction starting early next year," Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said.
NSW Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay said a specialist contractor has been engaged to lay telecommunication cables, north of Maclean, over the next month to replace existing copper and fibre optic cable.
"Two experienced heritage consultant teams have also been engaged in the early works, to excavate and preserve Aboriginal heritage sites along the highway," Mr Truss said.
The first section to be built on the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade will be the stretch between Woolgoolga and Glenugie.
"Tenders for the 26km Woolgoolga to Glenugie construction works have been advertised," Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said.
The project is expected to create significant employment with the tender to involve around 2,500 workers.
A further 6,500 indirect jobs are expected to be provided on the North Coast.
The Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade is the last highway link to be upgraded between Hexham and the Gold Coast.
To date 58% of the Pacific Hwy has been upgraded to dual carriageway while another 21% is under construction or set to start shortly.