New section of the Pacific Hwy upgrade open to traffic
WHILE many motorists were celebrating the opening of the Frederickton to Eungai section of the Pacific Hwy upgrade, the official opening ceremony had a much more poignant feel.
The new section of the Pacific Hwy bypasses the site where the Clybucca bus crash claimed 35 lives in 1989.
Joining Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker and the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester for the official opening were rescuers involved in the head-on bus tragedy, which remains Australia's worst ever road accident.
"This is a very important day in the lives of so many people on the Mid North Coast, and around the nation, who were touched by the horror of the morning of December 22 in 1989," Mr Hartsuyker said.
"Completing this stretch of the Pacific Hwy upgrade is also symbolic, because the scale and horror of the Clybucca bus crash was the impetus for the Pacific Hwy duplication from Hexham to the Queensland border.
"There are emergency service workers, neighbours who lived near the crash site, support workers, doctors, nurses and counsellors who will never forget that event, and for some probably think of it every day."
The new section of duplicated road links the Kempsey bypass and the existing four lane divided road north of Eungai Rail.
With the new section opened it means there will be a time savings on the road as well as the increased safety.
The speed limit on the 26.5km Frederickton to Eungai section is 110kmh while the speed limit on the existing 14.5km Kempsey bypass has also been increased from 100kmh to 110kmh.
A small amount of finishing work will still be required at Frederickton interchange and north of the Stuarts Point interchange. This work is expected to take about three months to complete.
Between the new Stuarts Point interchange and the existing four-lane highway north of Eungai Rail, traffic on the new highway will be reduced to one lane in both directions, with a temporary speed limit of 80kmh to tie in to the existing four lane highway and allow temporary road pavement to be removed and finishing work to be completed. This is expected to remain in place until August.
The new northbound highway entry ramp at the Frederickton interchange will remain closed until August to allow for modifications to the Frederickton interchange roundabout.