Construction of about 40 new overtaking lanes along the Newell Highway has hit the halfway mark with two lanes at Firetail now completed, lanes at Back Creek under construction, and safety work at Redbank to be completed shortly.
The Australian and New South Wales governments are jointly investing $1.455 billion towards upgrading the Newell Highway, with the Federal Government contributing $60 million to build new overtaking lanes and the NSW Government contributing $168 million.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the new overtaking lanes would improve safety, boost freight productivity and reduce travel times by about 33 minutes between the Victorian and Queensland borders.
“The Australian Government’s record $110 billion infrastructure investment plan is about delivering the infrastructure Australians need while driving economic growth,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“We are helping to connect communities and improve safety, while creating jobs and supporting our economic recovery.
“To date, more than 2,400 people have been employed to work on these projects, with 870 of those being locals, delivering an important economic boost to the region.”
NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the Newell Highway Program Alliance was rolling out several projects along the length of the Newell Highway, from north of Moree to Tocumwal, to bolster efficiencies along the freight backbone of NSW.
“These Newell Highway overtaking lanes are game changers for motorists, including one of the longest overtaking lanes in the entire state at Tap Hill opened earlier this year, providing road users more opportunity to safely pass slower and longer vehicles on this key tourism and freight route,” Mr Toole said.
“Even greater benefits will be realised when motorists can use the proposed jointly funded $187.2 million, 10.5-kilometre bypass of Parkes, on track to start construction in January 2022.
“The NSW Government has also committed $200 million towards works to flood-proof the Newell Highway between West Wyalong and Forbes.
“Projects like these are important in supporting the regional freight task in NSW, which is expected to increase by 12 per cent to 286 million tonnes moving across our road network by 2036.”
Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack said the latest two Newell Highway overtaking lanes now open at Firetail, about six kilometres north of Grong Grong, would deliver big benefits for all motorists and local businesses.
“Encouraging businesses and suppliers within the region to get involved in large-scale infrastructure projects like this one demonstrates how the Australian and NSW governments are working together to make sure these projects benefit communities at a local level,” Mr McCormack said.
“Another aspect of this highway upgrade we’re proud of is the tree replanting work that is being done.
“About 10,000 Grey Box trees have been replanted around the project site and surrounding Grong Grong area, to replace trees removed to make way for the new lanes – that’s 10 trees for every one mature tree that’s removed.”
State Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said initial work had begun to establish the site at Back Creek.
“This will include installing erosion and sediment controls, removing vegetation from the site and establishing the overtaking lanes work zone,” Ms Cooke said.
“In Cootamundra, as well as the recently completed lanes at Firetail there are currently six lanes in construction at Alleena, Landervale and Back Creek.”
“That’s about eight kilometres of overtaking lanes, with both north and south bound lanes at each location taking the total to about 16 kilometres of overtaking lanes.”
The first week of work will be carried out between 7am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday. On every other week, work will be carried out between 7am and 6pm from Monday to Friday and between 8am and 6pm on those weekends.
The remainder of the project is expected to take about nine months to complete, weather permitting. Safety work at Redbank, about 26 kilometres south of Coonabarbran, including installing a widened centre line and shoulder widening, is also due for completion in mid-November.