CHANGES: New plans for Big River Way upgrade revealed
PLANS for a $20m safety upgrade of the old Pacific Highway between Glenugie Tyndale have been revealed in a new report.
The Community Consultation Summary Report for the Big River Way was released by Transport for NSW this week.
The report states that traffic on the Big River Way has fallen from a significant level to about 5000 vehicles a day, with heavy vehicles in the Glenugie to South Grafton section reduced by 75 per cent.
The project states it will deliver the following improvements to the road:
- Install widened centre line on the highway to increase the separation between oncoming vehicles
- Install safety barrier to reduce the risk of vehicles leaving the highway and hitting an object or oncoming vehicle
- Improve intersections at Eight Mile, Six Mile and Four Mile lanes, Centenary Drive (south), Heber Street in South Grafton, Swan and McLachlans lanes and Coldstream Road
- Review bus drop off/pick up areas and improve where possible
- Provide safer turning facilities at Six Mile Lane
- Install roadside safety barrier for improved protection of pedestrians at Ulmarra
Review the Ulmarra school zone for safety measures and opportunities.
Member for Clarence and Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads and Infrastructure Chris Gulaptis said Transport for NSW received 49 written submissions and more than 150 comments on social media in response to the consultation.
Some of the issues raised were:
- Objections to removal of overtaking lanes
- Property access with the installation of wire rope safety barrier
- Repairs to the road surface.
The report states that it will be changing the spacing and direction of overtaking lanes to better match the new traffic needs of the area.
These changes include the existing overtaking lane near Reilleys Lane be reversed to serve northbound traffic. This provides an overtaking opportunity between the Pacific Highway upgrade at Glenugie and Grafton
For southbound traffic a new, longer overtaking lane will start at Centenary Drive and end just before Four Mile Lane. This will allow traffic to overtake slower vehicles after leaving Grafton.
A northbound overtaking lane located near Duncans Lane will be retained, allowing traffic to overtake slower vehicles after leaving Grafton
The divided road and overtaking lanes at Swan Creek and Cowper (Brushgrove) will be retained.
The width gained by removing an overtaking lane will be used to install a widened median, which the report says will significantly improve road safety by separating oncoming vehicles, reducing the risk of head on collisions.
The wide median will allow for median safety barriers to be installed, this will further enhance safety along the route according to the report.
To reduce the potential for head on collisions, the upgrade will look at a number of locations to install these safety barriers. This may result in a change to how residents access their property and could result in an increase in journey times.
Residents whose access is impacted may have to access or exit Big River Way at a different intersection or use another intersection to safely turn around to head in the direction you need travel.
The report states that many property access points are located where it is not safe to stop in the traffic lane while waiting to turn and there is a risk of collisions. In this situation, left-in and left-out turning movements are preferred for any access onto the highway, such as driveways, as they separate potential conflict points.
"We understand some land owners have property on adjacent sides of the road and need to move between the separate parts of their land," the report states.
"Further discussions will be carried out with landowners to minimise any potential impacts, including to property access and median safety barriers, before work starts in those locations," Mr Gulaptis said.
The report also addresses the quality of the road surface, with a reactive maintenance approach taken during the building of the upgrade.
The proposed safety upgrade will include rebuilding substantial sections of the road that have been damaged to provide a smoother travel journey.
"We'll continue to work with the Ulmarra Village Inc to identify any additional opportunities to improve safety at Ulmarra, including reviewing the Ulmarra school zone for safety measures and ensuring traffic counts are taken in the area," Mr Gulaptis said.
"The importance of shared cycle ways along the route was also identified, and future opportunities for these will be investigated with Clarence Valley Council."
The initial proposal said that vehicles greater than 19 metres are currently restricted from using the Glenugie (north) interchange as Eight Mile Lane is not currently a designated B-double route. B-doubles will need to use the Glenugie (south), or Tyndale interchanges when travelling to and from Grafton.
Transport for NSW had held discussions with the local transport industry and Council on the matter.
"It has been determined that the use of Eight Mile Lane will be monitored following the opening of the upgrade, to assist in providing a greater understanding of how this section of road will be used," it said
"While work is being carried out on Big River Way over the next three years, we will continue to monitor this section of road and consider any opportunities to improve road safety in this area."
Transport for NSW is already working on improvements to a section of road at Bom Bom, south of Grafton, expected to be completed by mid-October, before work to rebuild pavement starts at Coldstream.
Work has also started on improvements to the intersections at Swan and McLachlans Lane.
The report for the proposed upgrades to Big River Way is now available to view online at www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/big-river-way-glenugie-tyndale in response to consultation carried out in July 2020.
The community will be kept informed on the progress and delivery of this project.