Section of bypass gets early mark
A KEY section of the Ballina bypass will be open before Christmas, Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin and NSW Minister for the North Coast Don Page announced in Ballina on Saturday.
General manager of the Ballina Bypass Alliance Bob Higgins explained that better than expected settling of the soils which form the road base of the 12km section between the new Teven Road "gateway" roundabout and the Cumbalum interchange has enabled work to progress more quickly than planned and that the section will open six months ahead of schedule.
"Roads will always settle over time because you have what they call 'long-term creep'," Mr Higgins explained.
"But we've been monitoring (the road base) for many years and we've reached a point where we've got the confidence we have the settlement under control - we are confident we can open this road up."
Local business and community representatives welcomed the announcement, saying the bypass would provide a boost for the local economy and improve traffic and pedestrian safety.
"It is a great thing that it is coming before Christmas because Christmas is a very important time for us in Ballina," chairman of the Ballina Bypass Ready Taskforce and secretary of the Ballina Chamber of Commerce, Glenn Costello, said.
Ballina Shire mayor Phillip Silver said the new bypass section would separate local and Sydney-Brisbane highway traffic.
"Intermingling of Lismore-Ballina traffic with Sydney-Brisbane traffic has always been dangerous," Mr Silver said.
"They are two entirely different sets of drivers with different mind-sets and different speeds, so now those two traffic streams will just not meet at all.
"They will come together at the Teven interchange, and the Lismore-Ballina will go underneath and the Sydney-Brisbane traffic will go over the top."
Mr Silver said the announcement of the early opening of the section was "huge news" for Ballina, but said local business and tourism operators will need to work together, and with the council, to counter any loss of trade resulting from the bypass of the town.
Mr Page spruiked the immediate and longer-term economic benefits of the project as well as improved traffic conditions for local residents.
"I see so many benefits in this project for the locals and the tourists," he said.
"For the locals, separation of local traffic from through-traffic means a lot less congestion and means safer conditions for pedestrians too."
Ms Saffin said the announcement would allow the local business community to prepare.
Open before Christmas
- Ballina Bypass Stage 2: Teven Road interchange to Cumbalum interchange.
- 9 bridges, including one of 100 metres in length.
- Ballina Bypass Stage 3: Teven interchange and Bruxner Highway connection, to be completed early in 2012.
- Cost: Total project $640 million.
- Cost: Approximately $50 million per kilometre.