Bypass speeding on

By ED SOUTHORN

TUGUN bypass campaigner Col Stephenson is happy the $600 million long-awaited project is six months ahead of schedule.

But he spoke out yesterday against the Queensland government's failure to allow a Boyd Street interchange near Tugun.

Mr Stephenson, the Tugun Progress Association secretary, said an estimated 27,000 vehicles a day, many from the Cobaki Lakes planned new township, would flow from NSW into Queensland via the Boyd Street overpass.

Many of these vehicles would be forced down Boyd Street, through Tugun and then to the Stewart Road interchange, currently north along the Pacific Highway, in order to head south on the Tugun Bypass, he said.

"We are pleased the bypass is ahead of schedule after the cost blew out from $157 million in 2001 to $450 million last June and now around $600 million on completion," Mr Stephenson said.

"But we are concerned there will be no Boyd Street interchange, only an overpass.

"The Queensland government say they will build an interchange when it's justified.

"But look what happened to the cost of the bypass while we waited for the government to make up its mind."

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie welcomed the completion on Saturday of the 334-metre excavation of the bypass tunnel under the Gold Coast Airport runway.

Twenty-metre-deep walls and the roof have so far been completed for the tunnel.

The next stage of the tunnel work is flooring, ramp slabs and mechanical and electrical installations for ventilation, fire protec- tion and signs.

The bypass tunnel will have two traffic "tubes" carrying vehicles in opposite directions, each 13 metres wide to allow future conversion from four to six lanes.

Mr Beattie said the Tugun Hill bridge was almost completed, the hillside was being excavated beneath the bridge and significant progress had been made on the Hidden Valley twin bridges.

"The Tugun bypass is now moving beyond the 'grunt' phase of major earthworks," Mr Beattie said.

"As much as anyone, I wish the drought would end, but the drier weather and good team work have helped accelerate this crucial project."

The bypass, now expected to open in mid-2008, is claimed to reduce travelling time between Currumbin and Tweed Heads to five minutes.

The Beattie government is providing most of the bypass money, with the balance from the federal government.

The NSW government is providing no funding.



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