Planning approval for the last piece in the jigsaw of the Pacific Highway upgrade has been given by the NSW government, 25 years on from the initial decision to dual the length of the route. The section from Ballina to Woolgoolga will be the last section of the Sydney to Brisbane freight route to become a four lane highway.
This last 155 km section will mean the highway finally bypasses South Grafton, Ulmarra, Woodburn, Broadwater and Wardell. Currently, 12000 vehicles a day use the road as it winds through the NSW Northern Rivers.
At the moment, about 58 per cent or 381 kilometres of the full length of the Pacific Highway between Hexham and the Queensland border is dual carriageway. A number of projects are now underway to fill in the existing gaps in the dualling, with another 80 kilometres currently under construction. The dualling of this major artery is expected to be completed by 2020, according to NSW Roads and Freight Minister, Duncan Gay.
This means it will be over thirty years since the NSW Government first stated the dualling of the Pacific Highway would be given the highest priority in the wake of the two truck and bus crashes, which saw 21 people die in Grafton and a further 35 lose their lives at Clybucca, in a six week period in late 1989.