The Pacific Highway duplication is the largest road project in the southern hemisphere right now.
In May this year, the NSW and Australian governments opened the $607 million Frederickton to Eungai section of the Pacific Highway. Reaching this major milestone means that two thirds of the duplicated highway is now open to traffic.
Since 2011 the NSW and Australian governments have invested almost $8 billion into duplicating the highway.
434.5 kilometres of the Pacific Highway have been upgraded to a four-lane divided road; equating to 66 percent of the overall duplication project from Hexham to the Queensland border.
Upgrading this highway is already saving lives. Since the project began, the number of lives lost on the Pacific Highway has halved and continues to decline.
The number of head-on crashes has so far reduced by more than 60 per cent; from more than 100 to less than 40 a year.
With major work progressing on the other sections motorists can expect to save up to two and half hours by 2020 when the upgrade is open to traffic
Almost 3,500 people are working directly on upgrades, and this does not include all the employees benefitting indirectly who supply items and services to the project such as tools, clothing, machinery and accommodation.
- 2471 people work on upgrades in Oxley;
- 402 people work on upgrades in Clarence;
- 257 people work on upgrades in Ballina;
- 202 people work on upgrades in Coffs Harbour; and
- 20 people work on upgrades in Port Macquarie
At peak construction in 2017, the total number of direct employees will increase to 4000 people, with 12,000 people working indirectly on upgrades.
Since 2011 the NSW and Australian Governments have opened a number of key upgrades including;
- The $607 million Frederickton to Eungai upgrade in May 2016
- The $862 million Tintenbar to Ewingsdale upgrade in December 2015;
- The $820 million Sapphire to Woolgoolga Pacific Highway upgrade in July 2014;
Five major projects are currently under construction between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour – each due to progressively open to traffic between 2016 and the end of 2017, including the $780 million Nambucca Heads to Urunga upgrade this year.
Work is also well underway on the final 155 kilometre section between Woolgoolga to Ballina , which is on track for completion by the end of the decade.
We are blasting and removing more than one million cubic metres from locations along this 155 kilometre stretch – this is equivalent to 400 Olympic size swimming pools of hard rock.
Labor left a litany of broken promises on the Pacific Highway – an upgrade which should have happened more than a decade ago.
- In 1996 NSW Labor promised to upgrade the entire length of the Pacific Highway to dual carriageway by 2006.
- In 1998 NSW Labor revises the duplication end date to 2012.
- In 2008 the then NSW Labor Treasurer Eric Roozendaal’s infamous November 2008 mini-Budget strips $300 million from future highway upgrades.
- And then in 2011 Federal Labor abandoned an 80:20 funding split ratio between the Australian and NSW governments; thereby ending any chance of completing the full duplication of the highway by the end of this year.
On coming into office, The Nationals restored the traditional 80:20 funding split ratio between the Australian and NSW governments - allowing the duplication to be completed by the end of the decade (2019-20).