Roads and Maritime Services has been investigating a Coffs Harbour bypass since 2001 as part of the Pacific Highway upgrade. The preferred route was announced in 2004 and the concept design report was published in 2008.
Since then funding priorities have targeted the full duplication of the Pacific Highway between Hexham and the Queensland border by 2020.
In March 2015 the NSW Government pledged $200 million for construction of the project, subject to a business case and significant funding from the Australian Government. The project has been allocated funding to carry out the environmental assessment and to finalise the concept design.
In December 2017 a strategic business case was submitted to the Australian Government to begin discussions about the project.
In May 2018 the Australian Government committed $971 million to build the project, and in September Roads and Maritime released the preferred concept design for community feedback.
The Coffs Harbour bypass has been given the official green light by the Federal Government after the Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley assessed and then approved the project under the EPBC Act, moving the town’s biggest ever infrastructure project a step closer to construction.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the 14-kilometre bypass which received official planning approval is one of the 15 major projects that the Federal Government committed to fast-tracking in June this year.
“The bypass is going to take more than 12,000 vehicles a day out of the centre of Coffs Harbour, reduce travel times by as much as 12 minutes by bypassing 12 sets of traffic lights, and improve safety for all road users,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“Transport for NSW has now received the final stamp of approval, after close scrutiny by the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces and the Australian Minister for the Environment.
“This approval includes the proposed tunnels at Roberts Hill, Shephards Lane and Gatelys Road, as well as assessing the project for its social, environmental, heritage and economic impacts, and gives the project team the green light to go ahead with major work.”
NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the Pacific Highway was a major contributor to Australia’s economy, and the Coffs Harbour bypass would be a key link in this vital piece of the nation’s infrastructure.
“This bypass alone will support about 12,000 jobs over the whole life-cycle of the project, providing about 2000 local jobs for the community of Coffs Harbour during construction, which shows how serious we are about investment in regional NSW,” Mr Toole said.
“The local community has played a huge role in developing this project – from helping shape the design for the bypass to engaging with the experts in the field to ensure we can get on with the job of delivering on our promise.”
Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan said now planning approval had been received, the benefits of the Federal and State Liberal-Nationals Governments investment in the biggest infrastructure project the region had ever seen could be realised.
“The Nationals in Government are delivering record support for job-creating, economy-boosting infrastructure,” Mr Conaghan said.
“This bypass is 80 per cent funded by the Federal Government and it will deliver major benefits to local businesses, contractors and suppliers for years to come.”