First birthday for bypass

Greg Leahy jumps for joy at the opening last year of the Tugun bypass.
Greg Leahy jumps for joy at the opening last year of the Tugun bypass.

LOOKING back on the first year of the Tugun bypass, Tweed Heads South courier Paul McDonald does not want to think about how he did business without it.

The $543 million stretch of highway efficiently connecting Queensland to New South Wales turns one today and has helped save valuable time for the Pack and Send owner and operator.

“I think the bypass is a godsend. It has been a tremendous improvement for us,” Mr McDonald said.

“When I think back to how we were doing business before the bypass opened I just can't believe it.

“Before the bypass I could be stuck in traffic in Tugun for anywhere up to an hour. I still can't believe it's been open for a year.”

Since its opening, more than 14 million vehicles have passed through the tunnel under the Gold Coast Airport runway, and slashed travel time from Brisbane to Tweed by an average of 20 minutes.

The opening of the bypass reduced traffic congestion on the Gold Coast Highway through Tugun.

Queensland Department of Traffic and Main Roads said more than 72,000 vehicles travelled along the Gold Coast Highway in both directions, of which 5.7 per cent were heavy vehicles in 2007. Since the bypass opened, traffic on the Gold Coast Highway decreased by about 50 per cent to 35,107 vehicles, of which 3.6 per cent were heavy vehicles.

More than 40,000 vehicles use the bypass every day and this number is expected to rise to 60,000 by 2017.

The first year of the bypass has not been without teething problems.

The original opening of the bypass was scheduled but was held off due to intense rain.

On Thursday, June 12 last year, hundreds of drivers heading to Tweed were held up for more than an hour after a technical glitch forced the boom gates on the southern tunnel to lower.

During the year vandals have smashed expensive glass panels either side of the road.

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