The new Harwood bridge has been well received by the community.
The new Harwood bridge has been well received by the community.

Pacific Highway upgrade reaches new milestone

THE Pacific Highway Ballina to Woolgoolga upgrade has reached a construction milestone, with Australia's largest regional road project now 85 per cent complete.

It's expected this year will see many sections of the upgrade open to traffic, and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the project was the final link in the Pacific Highway upgrade.

"The past 12 months have been huge with about eight kilometres of dual carriageway opened to traffic by December, including the iconic new bridge over the Clarence River at Harwood," Mr McCormack said.

"The upgrade is on track to be completed by the end of 2020 and new sections will continue to open progressively as they are completed."

NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade would take 25 minutes off journey times once complete and contribute to smoother, safer and more reliable trips along the North Coast.

"With the opening of the bridge at Harwood last year, we are really moving into the final leg of the project," Mr Toole said.

"The new bridge is the longest crossing on the upgrade and opened as part of a four kilometre section of road between Farlows Flat and Serpentine Channel.

"The team worked hard to have the new section of highway opened before the end of the year, allowing holiday-makers to get to their destination faster and with fewer delays."

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the new Harwood bridge had been well received by locals.

"Motorists are enjoying the smooth journey over the bridge, as traffic is no longer required to stop for bridge lifts for vessels on the river," Mr Gulaptis said.

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the upgraded highway would continue to open in stages as completed.

"We appreciate the community is eager to know when new sections are expected to open and we will keep people informed about the timing and staging of traffic changes," Mr Hogan said.

"Construction has progressed at an unprecedented scale and pace since the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade started with more than 3300 workers employed at the highest peak and many more indirect jobs created."

The Australian and NSW Liberal and Nationals Governments are jointly funding the $4.95 billion Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade on an 80:20 basis.

The latest information on the upgrade is available at www.pacifichighway.nsw.gov.au