Bypass puzzle coming together
ANY change to the type of dangerous goods able to use the three tunnels on the Coffs Bypass would be dictated by regulations - not the technical specifications of those tunnels.
This was the message from Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh while announcing the next stage in the long-awaited project.
"The tunnels will be built to the highest specifications and any changes to the types of dangerous goods to use them will be regulatory and not due to specifications," Mr Singh said.
He was joined by NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole at the Coffs Harbour Showground to release the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) Submissions Report.
The EIS went on display in September last year attracting more than 180 submissions.
Minister Toole said the release of the report was the last step before formal approval of the project, which will boost the local economy, create jobs, increase local skills and improve regional connectivity.
"We're at the final gate now with the report up for formal approval, which means we're on track to see shovels in the ground by the end of the year," Mr Toole said.
"This bypass, jointly funded by the Australian and NSW governments, is the biggest infrastructure project in Coffs' history and will have a huge economic impact.
"It will support about 12,000 jobs over the whole life-cycle of the project, providing about 2000 indirect and direct local jobs for the community of Coffs Harbour during construction which shows how serious we are about investment in regional NSW."
Acting regional director of the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) Anna Zycki was also on hand to answer questions and she confirmed the tunnels would be blasted and that approximately 60 per cent of home acquisitions along the route had been complete.
It will bypass 12 sets of traffic lights, remove about 12,000 vehicles from the CBD and saving more than 10 minutes in travel time.
The 14-kilometre, fourlane project will include tunnels at Roberts Hill, Shephards Lane and Gatelys Road.
Drilling to test the hardness of rock in preparation for the tunnels is currently underway.
For years the community had been expecting tunnels until shocked by the release of a Preferred Concept Design in September 2018 showing cuttings.
It was considered a win for people power when the EIS was released in September last year showing tunnels.
Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan said the submissions received in response to the EIS for the project covered a range of issues including noise and vibration, biodiversity, traffic and transport.
"The community is now invited to view the Submissions Report to learn how Transport for NSW has responded to the topics raised," Mr Conaghan said.
"In addition to the EIS, further design changes to the bypass went on display in November 2019, including improvements to the Englands Road and Korora Hill interchanges."
Mr Singh said the local community had also responded to these changes, with 31 submissions made directly to the Coffs Harbour bypass project team.
"The Amendment Report outlines and assesses design changes made as a result of feedback received from the community and stakeholders," Mr Singh said.
"The Coffs Harbour bypass will make our region an even better place to live, work and visit, and the release of these reports demonstrates that we're on track to commence early works by the end of the year."
The full reports are available to view at the display office, 11a Park Avenue in Coffs Harbour, or on the project website www.pacifichighway.nsw.gov.au/coffsharbourbypass
Transport for NSW is submitting the Submissions and Amendment reports to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, which will consider them during its assessment of the project before the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces decides whether the project is approved.
Transport for NSW expects that advice later this year.