Tenders called for $90m bypass

CONSTRUCTION of the long-awaited Alstonville Bypass is set to begin early next year, with the Federal Government yesterday announcing the calling of tenders.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said tenders would open on October 6 and close on November 19, with work to begin soon after.

The $90 million project is due for completion in late 2010. The announcement was welcomed by Ballina councillor and Alstonville Bypass Action Committee member David Wright.

“We were so disappointed the last time funding for the bypass was pulled in 2003,” he said.

“I was scared that Federal funding would be cut for the project, especially with the blocking of the alcopop tax earlier this year.

“So to think the first sod will be turned just after Christmas is great.”

Mr Albanese said the Rudd Labor Government had used its first budget to bring forward $13.6 million, so work could be started at least 12 months ahead of schedule.

He said the bypass would clear a major bottleneck on the Bruxner Highway between Ballina and Lismore, and take up to 700 trucks off the village's roads.

According to Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin, Alstonville residents had waited decades for yesterday's announcement.

“As far back as 1975 there were maps setting out the preferred route, but now finally the project is going ahead,” she said.

“I made an election commitment that the Alstonville Bypass would go ahead and the funding to get it started was announced in the May Federal Budget.

“The project has the potential to transform Alstonville from the current traffic-congested thoroughfare into a pedestrian-friendly heritage village.

“There are huge road safety benefits for residents, particularly the local school children.

“And, of course, by eliminating the congested single-lane route through Alstonville's main street, the Alstonville Bypass will be welcomed by the thousands of motorists who use the Bruxner Highway between Lismore and Ballina every day.”

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