Coffs MP answers some tough questions on Bypass progress
Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh has responded to a number of concerns raised in a recent article about the Coffs Harbour Bypass:
The Advocate posed the following questions to Mr Singh in relation to these recent concerns.
Question: Given the recent fire crisis has put a strain on State and Federal funding resources will there be any reconsideration given to funding arrangements for the bypass? If so would this impact on the commitment to tunnels which are widely accepted as a more expensive option.
Answer: The government has committed to and budgeted for tunnels as part of the bypass, and that's what we will be delivering.
Question: Can you commit to a genuine 2020 start date and not just a ceremonial sod turning.
Answer: The Coffs Harbour bypass is proceeding as planned, with early works commencing before the end of 2020, subject to planning approvals. The project is expected to take between four and five years, weather permitting.
We only have one chance to build a project of this scale so we are making sure that it is done right. And the community response so far shows that we're getting it right. The design has been refined to include three tunnels, upgraded bus and pedestrian facilities, and simpler interchange designs.
Deliberate misinformation being spread in the community is unhelpful - we're getting on with job of delivering the Coffs Harbour Bypass.
Question: There are concerns circulating in the community that rock (particularly at the southern Roberts Hill tunnel) could be too hard to allow for the drilling of a tunnel. Can you confirm the appropriate geotechnical investigation has been conducted to allow for the construction of all 3 tunnels as promised in the EIS.
Answer: Sufficient geotechnical information was previously gathered to ensure the design of tunnels in the EIS.
Rock at the proposed tunnel sites is not too hard for tunnelling.
Question: When will tenders be advertised and will the tender be awarded as a construct only tender and not a design and construct tender which may allow for design changes at a late stage
Answer: Transport for NSW is in the process of developing a procurement strategy and will brief industry and the community before tenders are advertised. The overall design, including three tunnels, will not change.
Question: In relation to the passage of dangerous goods through the three tunnels the EIS states this is being considered as part of the 'policy development process'. Given this is the last section of highway to be duplicated why is this issue still being discussed with the relevant authorities ?
Answer: Discussions are ongoing with relevant authorities to determine what classes of dangerous goods may be able to be carried on the bypass.
The carriage of dangerous goods in road tunnels is the subject of national policy development through Austroads with the direct involvement of Transport for NSW.
Projects which involve the construction of road tunnels, such as the Coffs Harbour bypass, are being considered in the policy development process.
Question: Where are you at with property acquisition - what percentage of homes have already been acquired.
Answer: Transport for NSW has contacted all affected property owners regarding the acquisition of land for the Coffs Harbour bypass.
Approximately 60 per cent of properties have been acquired to date.
Question: What progress has been made for planning for the CBD section of the Pacific Highway once the new bypass is constructed. Will traffic light be removed or roundabouts put in for example.
Answer: Transport for NSW will retain the existing route of the Pacific Highway as a state road.
There are currently no proposals to remove signals on the old highway after it is bypassed.
Any changes to the current highway will be developed in consultation with the Coffs Harbour City Council.