The Sandy Flat Road tunnel has been laid in place, with workers now backfilling to cover the tunnel for the Pacific Highway to pass over.
The Sandy Flat Road tunnel has been laid in place, with workers now backfilling to cover the tunnel for the Pacific Highway to pass over. CATHY ADAMS

Tops in traffic control

TRAFFIC controllers working on the Ballina bypass are the best in the state, according to the project’s manager.

Tony Stante, of the Ballina Bypass Alliance, said they had invested a lot of time and effort in ‘upskilling’ tradespeople who worked on the bypass.

“We have 350 people on site on any given day,” he said.

“Seventy to 80 per cent of those workers are from the local area.”

Mr Stante said the Alliance had employed apprentices, indigenous trainees and put other employees through various courses in an effort to ensure their workers were the best in the industry.

“It’s one of our ongoing commitments to upskill our workers,” he said.

“We use a local traffic control company, which had only been set up for about 18 months. Now we’ve got the best traffic controllers in the state.”

And it’s clear why it is so important to have the best people on the job – at the moment, more than $18 million of work is being done on the bypass every month.

The 11.5km bypass is expected to cost at least $640 million.

The project will use more than 140,000 cubic metres of concrete and 1.6 million cubic metres of earthworks.

Mr Stante said the bypass was a ‘significant challenge’ because of the soft soils.

Extended settlement periods are required at certain sections of the bypass, but it is still on track to be finished by the end of 2012.

The northern end of the bypass will be opened by the end of next year.

In March, the Alliance will open its own concrete batch plant near Ross Lane in preparation for the start of concrete pavement works.

The Cumbalum diversion traffic switch is also expected to be in place by March.

Mr Stante said the Teven Road bridge was currently in a ‘long settlement phase’ and was being monitored every week.

“We have finished pouring the decks at the northern end of the carriageway, and we’ll start pouring the southern deck soon,” he said.

“The bulk of earthworks have been finished at Ross Lane.

“We’ve now started building the retaining walls for the Sandy Flat Road underpass.”

More than 12km of local roads are being upgraded as part of the Ballina bypass.

The RTA’s Pacific Highway general manager, Bob Higgins, said the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale upgrade was still waiting for project approval from the Department of Planning.



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