Final pavement has been laid on a 24-year upgrade that represents the largest road project currently underway in Australia.
The last section of pavement has been laid on the $15 billion Pacific Highway Upgrade Project, which has seen 657 kilometres of highway between Newcastle and the border with Queensland converted into a four- lane divided road.
Originally commenced in 1996, the project is expected to slash travel times by up to two and a half hours and reduce the number of fatal crashes by up to 70 percent.
The upgrade has been undertaken in four sections: the 217 kilometre upgrade between Newcastle and Port Macquarie, a 145 kilometre upgrade between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, a 91 Kilometre upgrade between Ballina and the Queensland Border and the 204 kilometre upgrade between Coffs Harbour and Ballina through Woolgoolga.
Of these, the first three sections are complete; the last saw the completion of pavement last week.
All up, more than 40,000 people worked on project.
On the final section alone:
- There are 170 bridges over rivers, creeks and floodplains including new major bridges over the Clarence and Richmond Rivers
- More than 15 million cubic meters of earth has been moved whilst 785,000 cubic metres of concrete has been pumped and 240,000 tonnes of asphalt has been laid
- On one day during peak construction, 25,000 tonnes of material (800 truckloads) was delivered
- 10 local quarries were engaged to supply the rock, sand and gravel needed for pavements, earthworks, drainage and other construction activities.
The final truckloads of material made their way from local quarries on site to complete travel lanes last week.
The final trucks deposited materials to finish paving on the eight-kilometre Wells Crossing to Glenugie stretch of the upgrade.
The final section of road will open in December, whilst works will continue until 2021.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack welcomed the road’s near completion,
Already, McCormack said the death toll on the highway has reduced by more than half since the project began.