The road nightmare is almost over
TWEED residents travelling to the Gold Coast will have to deal with the Tugun traffic deadlock for the last time this morning, but should have a quicker journey home if the long-awaited opening of the Tugun bypass goes as planned.
After more than 30 years of waiting the $543 million bypass should be open to traffic later this afternoon, but that is if the weather holds out so last minute line marking works can be completed on the Queensland side of the border.
Hundreds of people turned out yesterday to be the first to walk the seven-kilometre, four-lane bypass, that is expected to ease congestion in Tugun by taking between 35,000 to 45,000 vehicles a day off the historically gridlocked Gold Coast Highway, and cut travel times from Tweed Heads to Currumbin from 20 to five minutes.
"This is the most significant congestion-beater that has ever been built in the state," said Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who was greeted with cheering and applause by the large crowd.
"This bypass will make a huge difference to people who live and work across the border, and will make a difference to the tourists whose dollars we so rely on in this area."
Hundreds of hands shot into the air when Ms Bligh asked how many people lived locally, and would benefit from the bypass.
"I want to thank the locals who put up with the trucks, the noise and dust during construction," she said.
"You have been waiting for this bypass for a long time. I hope that you think that is was worth the wait?"
The bypass was an excellent example of how all sides of politics and all levels of government could work together to achieve outcomes that benefit all, Ms Bligh said.
But she was quick to criticise the NSW Government for its lack of financial support for the project.
"Despite all the obstacles, the Queensland Government was determined to get this bypass built and we committed $423 million to its construction, while our NSW counterparts failed to kick in even a single cent," she said, admitting the launch, held away from the rain inside the bypass tunnel, was on NSW land.
"But I'll admit we could have got our act together earlier and the bypass would have been completed earlier."
Member for Tweed, Geoff Provest, who with Member for Richmond Justine Elliott were the only NSW-based government officials invited to attend the opening, agreed NSW had slacked off in its obligation to improve traffic congestion on the Tweed.
"I am critical that the NSW Government didn't do something earlier, or get on board once the project was underway so it could be fast-tracked," Mr Provest said after the launch.
"The bypass is needed as much by Tweed residents as those on the Gold Coast."