Federal transport minister Anthony Albanese yesterday announced two projects destined to bring jobs, albeit short-term ones, to the Clarence Valley: the building of the Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway and the upgrading of Grafton airport.
The federal government has approved new funding of $282.3 million to complete the necessary planning and pre-construction activities along the 155 kilometre section with the aim of ‘getting construction workers and their equipment onsite as soon as possible’.
‘Once underway, this multi-billion project will re-route the highway to the east of Grafton, build ten major interchanges, erect new bridges across the Clarence and Richmond rivers as well as install strategically located wildlife crossings,’ Mr Albanese said yesterday.
Page MP Janelle Saffin said the new funding will put up to 1000 people to work, both directly and indirectly, surveying and terrain modelling the route as well as treating soft soil sites along the route.
‘The money will also be used to progress the detailed planning work, complete the necessary land acquisitions and obtain the required environmental approvals,’ said Ms Saffin.
‘In addition, a two-kilometre section of the highway connecting to the southern end of the new Ballina bypass will be duplicated and new bridges over Duck and Emigrant creeks erected.’
Meanwhile, Mr Albanese said a $2.1 million upgrade to Grafton airport, co-funded by the federal government’s Regional Development Australia Fund, would not only help the community secure increased and more reliable passenger services between Grafton and Sydney but also open up new markets and improve safety.