Bypass sneak peek

By ED SOUTHORN

TWEED motorists are about to get their first close-up views of the long-awaited Tugun bypass.

A major, temporary traffic diversion will soon take northbound vehicles on to a new overpass near Kennedy Drive.

The $543 million cross-border highway project, funded by the Queensland and federal governments, remains about six months ahead of its original scheduled timetable and could be open as soon as early next year, although the official opening date remains mid-2008.

The new overpass, part of what will be called the Tweed Heads Interchange, is close to the southern end of the 7km-long Tugun Bypass, about 1km from the current Kennedy Drive exit on the Tweed bypass.

The overpass is designed to take traffic heading into Coolangatta.

Before the end of this month, the overpass, not far from the old drive-in theatre screen, will temporarily take northbound traffic from the Tweed bypass.

This will allow Tugun bypass construction teams to work on linking the new bypass to the Tweed bypass.

Drivers may be able to glimpse large sections of the Tugun Bypass construction site as they travel on the new overpass.

Queensland Main Roads Acting Project Director for the Tugun Bypass, Neil Wright, yesterday told the Daily News a lot of major construction work still had to be finished, including a tunnel under the Gold Coast Airport runway extension, some sections of the road surface and noise and sight screens.

Mr Wright said that although the Tugun Bypass might appear to be close to completion, especially at the northern end, there was still substantial work to be done.

"It's been a massive job and we've made very good progress, but it's certainly not finished yet," Mr Wright said.

"People might want it to be open for Christmas, and we'd like it to open as early as possible, but as well as the work still to be completed, the impact of the weather is an unknown.

"We are coming now into the storm season, so we'll have to wait and see if there are any delays due to bad weather."

The Queensland government has committed $423 million to the Tugun Bypass and the federal government the remaining $120 million.

Although about 50 per cent of the Tugun bypass route is in NSW, the NSW government is not contributing to the cost.

The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority has a major consultancy role.

The Tugun bypass is being constructed by the Pacific Link Alliance, a consortium of Queensland Main Roads, Abigroup (builders of the Chinderah to Yelgun freeway), and the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation.

Work began on the bypass in May 2006 after political debate spanning more than a decade and a complex approvals process.



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