Contracts drawn for $554m upgrade

WITH $554 million now set aside for the upgrade of the Pacific Highway between Tintenbar to Ewingsdale, the RTA is expected to finalise contracts for the work within the next three months.

A spokesman for federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said $180 million of that funding was specifically set aside to start actual construction work in the 2011/12 financial year.

“About $40 million has been spent preparing the corridor,” the spokesman said.

“That includes acquiring land and detailed planning. Most of the land acquisitions have already been finalised; others are very close to being finalised.

“But contracts for the project are yet to be finalised, so at this stage we are unable to give a full breakdown of the $554 million.”

NRMA Motoring and Services president Wendy Machin said she was pleased the Federal Government had allocated $1 billion to the Pacific Highway in this week's budget.

She said the highway remained “one of Australia's most dangerous roads”.

“By accelerating the work on the Pacific Highway we hope that the 2016 deadline will be met,” Ms Machin said. “We are pleased that the Australian Government continues to invest in this crucial road.”

But leader of The Nationals, Warren Truss, said the funding was just a “rehashed announcement”.

“The so-called $1 billion extra for the duplication of the Pacific Highway in NSW is a dud,” he said.

“It is made up of $700 million in funds previously committed to the highway ... and $270 million siphoned from other projects in NSW.

“Even worse, as Minister Albanese concedes in his media release, not one centimetre of bitumen will be laid – instead, the $1 billion is earmarked for detailed planning only.”

The upgrade of the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale section of the highway has been on the agenda for many years, with the RTA starting investigations in November 2004.

In September 2006 the preferred route was put on public exhibition, and this was followed in August 2008 by the display of the environmental assessment.

The NSW Planning Minister approved the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale upgrade in January last year.

In March last year the RTA invited tenders for the construction of the upgrade, and the winning contracts are expected to be announced in the near future.

MISSING LINK: BUILDING A HIGHWAY

Length: 17km of dual carriageway from Ross Lane to Ewingsdale

Federal Government’s allocation: $554.1 million.

Construction: Expected to take about three years.

Number of workers: Up to 500 construction workers engaged at any given time.

Partial or total acquisition of 73 properties was required.

The Department of Planning received 352 submissions on the project.

The upgrade includes six twin bridges and four underpasses.

Existing highway to be kept for local and regional traffic.

Twin parallel tunnels under St Helena ridge (one tunnel for each carriageway). Tunnels will be about 340m long and about 45m below St Helena Road.

Source: RTA and the NSW Department of Planning.


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