By DAVID MOASE
SHORT-TERM pain may bring long-term gain for motorists used to waiting endlessly at the intersection of Bray Street and the Pacific Highway.
More than six months after it was first mooted, construction of an extra left-turn lane in Bray Street to reduce delays at the traffic lights will start next Monday.
The work is estimated to take 10 weeks to complete at a cost of $400,000, with traders from the Bray Street entertainment complex contributing $100,000 and Coffs Harbour City Council the remaining $300,000.
The council's director of city services, Stephen Sawtell, said residents and Bray Street traders would be regularly updated on the progress of work but motorists could expect significant delays.
"Strenuous steps are being taken to minimise any disruption to pedestrians and traffic in and around the junction during the work," Mr Sawtell said.
"The construction itself has been scheduled at this time to take advantage of the lowest level of traffic activity during this year.
"The work will be undertaken by two teams, one of which may work through the night from 6pm to 6am as needed, so that the project is complete as fast as possible and with as little disruption as possible."
During the construction period:
the pedestrian crossings on the highway's northern side and Bray Street will be closed;
the kerbside northbound lane of the highway will be closed intermittently;
temporary footpath access will be provided through the entertainment complex;
access to the complex will be partially closed;
motorists are advised to use alterna-tive routes.
The plan to widen the intersection came from a working party set up last year by the council and Bray Street businesses.
It was suggested as a way to quickly alleviate the long hold-ups at the traffic lights and the entertainment complex, especially during school holidays.
"In the longer term, council hopes that the amount of local traffic travelling on this section of the highway will eventually be reduced by the completion of the Hogbin Drive extension," the mayor Cr Keith Rhoades said.
"But the timetable for that plan has been pushed back after the plans for the funding of the extension received a knock-back from the State Government.
"The new lane on Bray Street is designed, however, to improve traffic flows until such time as the local vehicles can use the completed Hogbin Drive route."