Transport challenges lie ahead

The Ballina bypass route looking south from Cumbalum to the Teven Road interchange in May this year. Photo Contributed
The Ballina bypass route looking south from Cumbalum to the Teven Road interchange in May this year. Photo Contributed Contributed

A SNAPSHOT of what lies in store for the Northern Rivers transport network paints a challenging picture of a region with tired infrastructure struggling to keep up with a booming population.

The NSW Transport Master Plan reveals more pressure will be placed on the already congested Pacific Hwy as the population almost doubles in the next 20 years.

Even after duplication, the plan outlines the need for an overhaul of local and regional rail and bus services to take the pressure off the highway, particularly during peak tourist seasons.

Short-term solutions include: re-opening the Casino-to-Murwillumbah rail corridor; duplication of the Pacific Hwy and widening works to the Bruxner Hwy; expansion of North Coast bus services with additional stops and interchanges at Grafton, Lismore and Casino; an additional crossing of the Clarence River at Grafton; and increased cross-border services into south-east Queensland

A Transport NSW spokesperson said yesterday while government needed to "do its homework" on the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor investigation, "significant progress" had been made through a $2 million feasibility study.

The expansion of a North Coast bus line between Taree and Tweed with more frequent stops at Grafton, Casino and Lismore and additional interchanges along the Pacific Hwy is on the cards.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said she would work with the Queensland Government to increase cross-border services.

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