Businesses brace for Urunga bypass opening

WITH the bypass of Urunga just weeks away, local businesses are expecting to feel the financial impact almost immediately.

The 22km section of highway has taken more than two and a half years to build and will significantly improve safety when it opens on August 2.

Urunga-Mylestom Chamber of Commerce president Steve Allan said many in the community were positive about benefits, but some businesses were expecting to see a downfall.

"There are businesses on the (current section of) highway that will miss that passing trade," he said.

"By and large our members are optimistic about the benefits - they've had long term plans in place for when the upgrade is completed."

The relocation of hundreds of road workers involved in the upgrade is also expected to have a flow-on affect, with many relocating to tunnel work in Sydney or work on the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Hwy upgrade.

The majority of the workforce - that peaked at 850 - had lived locally, boosting trade at local businesses.

State Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey said it would be a period of adjustment for the shire, but generally, the mood was positive.

"I suppose that's the swings and roundabouts of major infrastructure development," she said.

The benefits have also flowed to local contractors, with Coffs Harbour firm Stocks & Hogan one of the local companies awarded work.

"The last 12 months has been a record year for us - we've had a 30-40 % increase," Director Paul Stocks said.

"We employ seven people and if the road works weren't there we'd had have two or three guys."

Concerns have also been appeased with research of 1000 workers employed on the upgrade showing 30% are considering permanently relocating to the Mid North or North Coasts.

Ms Pavey - who recently described the current highway as a "goat track masquerading as a highway" said the upgrade was vital for the region.

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