Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss joined NSW Acting Premier Andrew Stoner, with Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker and State Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser, to turn the first sod on this major project.
Mr Truss said the Australian Government would ensure works on the Pacific Highway remained a high government priority.
“This section of the Pacific Highway recorded 49 crashes in the two years to March 2011, six of them involving fatalities,” Mr Truss said.
“The project we started today will build a straighter, four-lane divided highway with grade-separated interchanges that separate local traffic from highway movements.”
Works including utility relocations and the establishment of a site compound commenced late last year, with Lend Lease securing the contract to design and construct the upgrade.
Mr Stoner said the cooperation between the Australian and NSW governments on the Pacific Highway had helped the upgrade progress quickly.
“To date, 368 kilometres of the Pacific Highway between Hexham and the Queensland border have been upgraded to a four-lane divided road,” Mr Stoner said.
“This project also involves construction of a new rest area at the Nambucca Heads interchange to give both heavy and light vehicles more opportunities to take regular breaks and reach their destinations safely.
“Weather permitting, we hope to see the upgrade completed and open to traffic in 2016.”
Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker welcomed the commencement of construction.
“I have been fighting hard to ensure the Urunga to Warrell Creek section of the highway is upgraded just as quickly as possible. In my view this has become the new fatigue zone on the Pacific Highway between Sydney and Brisbane,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“The commencement of the Urunga to Nambucca Heads upgrade is therefore a very important part of duplicating the highway throughout the Nambucca Valley.”
State Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser said the community had called for building to start as soon as possible.
“The Australian and NSW Governments have worked together to expedite the project to the building phase, with the upgrade of the Ballards Road intersection, building the project main site compound and survey and geotechnical work already underway,” Mr Fraser said.
The Australian Government has committed $5.64 billion to complete the Pacific Highway duplication within the decade. This Nambucca Heads to Urunga section is a $780 million project equally funded by the Australian and NSW governments.