Bypass starts before the end of 2020 (weather permitting)
WHILE the most important part of any billion-dollar infrastructure project is complete - the ceremonial sod turning - the "heavy works" to transform Coffs Harbour with a long-awaited bypass is still 12 months away.
While the official start of the bypass construction was this morning, NSW Roads Minister Paul Toole confirmed major works to build the $1.8 billion dollar project will begin next year, and will be completed in five years - from today.
Flanked by Cowper MP Pat Conaghan, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh, Mr Toole said "weather permitting", the demolition of a Bruxner Park home to make way for a new Solitary RFS station would happen before Christmas, officially marking the beginning of the project.
Mr Toole added that aside from demolition works, doorknocking would be carried out along the proposed bypass route to begin noise assessments and the State Government would tender for the relocation of critical utilities in "the next few of days".
"What we are announcing today is shovels in the ground to say that this project has started, planning approval has been given and now we are getting on with it."
The long-awaited bypass will see tunnels constructed at Roberts Hill, Shephards Lane and Gatelys Road and there has been significant public debate over the advantages of tunnels versus cuttings, especially after it was revealed trucks carrying dangerous goods would not be able to use the bypass.
>>>READ MORE: Tunnels the safest option says leaked report
Mr Toole acknowledged the issue and foreshadowed the possibility of a policy shift, saying the Government continued to have discussions with emergency services on whether or not there might be a change in policy "for all NSW."
NSW Deputy Premier and Minister Regional NSW John Barilaro said the bypass was a legacy project that will serve the local community for generations to come.
"The NSW Government is determined to ensure regional communities recover after the tragic bushfires and the Covid pandemic, by creating legacy projects that will last for generations as well as valuable jobs now and into the future," he said.