Work starts when?

By DAVID MOASE

COFFS HARBOUR residents now know where the RTA wants the Pacific Highway to run in the future but they can still only guess when building work will be completed.

Pacific Highway general manager, Bob Higgins, yesterday announced the $900 million plan to route the highway around both Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga, with the connecting highway from Sapphire to Hearns Lake upgraded to dual carriageway.

There is still extensive planning and preparation work to be carried out and funding for construction needs to be secured, so Mr Higgins was not prepared to speculate on a starting date.

"We are not at liberty to talk about times at this stage," he said.

RTA general manager infrastructure communications, Fiona Court, said funding to complete the upgrading of the Pacific Highway was dependant on NSW Roads Minister Carl Scully reaching an agreement with his Federal counterparts.

Mr Higgins said the Inner South 1 corridor was selected because of engineering issues, particularly because of the length of tunnels required on the Inner South 2 route.

The more westerly Inner North 2 route was chosen because it provided 'a number of opportunities to shield the Coffs Harbour urban area from the highway itself in terms of being able to use good design to provide that shielding'.

The section from Sapphire to Woolgoolga will be an upgrade of the existing highway, with major interchanges at Split Solitary Road and Moonee Beach Road.

At Woolgoolga, the highway will loop to the west along the route of Option E, which Mr Higgins said was selected on the basis that it provided the best outcome for the community.

It was about $15 million dearer than the C1 option and will pass through some properties.



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