‘Soft soil’ work has started on two sections of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade.
Deputy PM and minister for infrastructure and regional development Warren Truss said the yesterday that the Australian Government had committed $5.64 billion toward the completion of the Pacific Highway upgrade by the end of the decade.
‘Almost 400 kilometres of the Pacific Highway has now been duplicated between Hexham and the Queensland border. The Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade will see the completion of these works and a boost to road safety by reducing accidents and travel times,’ Mr Truss said.
But the RMS has confirmed no work has yet commenced on the controversial Blackwall Ranges section, which would cut through pristine koala habitat.
According to the RMS website, ‘As part of the conditions of approval for the project, we are required to demonstrate impact to the Ballina koala population will be acceptable before building can start in the area known as section 10, which starts at Broadwater and finishes at Coolgardie, south of Ballina.
‘We are also required to carry out Population Viability Analysis (PVA), for a 50-year timeframe, to demonstrate “the long-term viability of the Ballina koala population, taking into account the impacts resulting from the road upgrade in section 10,’ the RMS says.
‘This work is well advanced and will form part of a Ballina Koala Plan to ensure the best outcome for koalas in section 10.
‘While this is taking place, work is progressing on the other 142 kilometres of the upgrade.’
The RMS adds that NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Mary O’Kane will is chairing the Koala Expert Advisory Committee to advise the Minister on environmental matters relating to section 10.
Soft soil work
NSW roads minister Duncan Gay said businesses will be invited to tender for early ‘soft soil works’ on 1.4 kilometre section of the highway south of Woodburn.
‘Preparing the foundation will allow the road base to settle before concrete paving is carried out, reducing the overall time and cost of the project and ensuring a duplicated highway is open to traffic by 2020,’ Mr Gay said.
The soft soil work is being managed by RMS and delivery partner Pacific Complete.
‘With about 150 kilometres of highway under construction, the focus is now on delivering the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade,’ The National Party’s federal Page MP Kevin Hogan said said.
Golding Contractors are completing the soft soil work on an area between 1.9 kilometres north of Farlows Lane and Yamba Road, and between Harwood and Chatsworth Road.
SEE Civil Pty Ltd will be starting early work along a 3.8 kilometre section of the Pacific Highway between Whytes Lane and Pimlico.
During the next year, wick drains will be installed in the soft soil to drain away ground water and the soil will be mixed with granular fill to provide a stronger road base.
The Australian Government is providing 80 per cent of the cost of building the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade, with the New South Wales Government providing 20 per cent.
For more information on the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au/W2B