The Kempsey Bypass project involves the construction of a 14.5 kilometre four-lane divided highway with bypasses of Kempsey and Frederickton – two townships on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, east of the existing highway. The bypass is the first stage of an approved 40 kilometre Kempsey to Eungai upgrade. Construction on the project began in July, 2010 and was originally scheduled to finish in mid-2014.
To design and construct the Kempsey Bypass, the Roads & Traffic Authority has formed an alliance with Leighton Contractors, AECOM and Coffey Geotechnics. A key feature of the project is the construction of approximately 3.2 kilometres of bridging over the Macleay River and floodplain. Abigroup – who are also working on The Hunter Expressway, another dual carriageway in NSW – has been announced as the preferred tenderer to design and build this bridge.
Other features of the project include grade separated interchanges at South Kempsey and Frederickton, and local road overpasses at Old Station Road, Inches Road and Crescent Head Road.
Construction on the bypass will cost $618 million, all of which is Federally-provided through the government’s Build Australia Fund.
The new bypass will benefit the community by improving highway safety, reducing travel times, and reducing highway maintenance costs. It will help eliminate traffic bottlenecks around Kempsey (especially around holiday time), it will improve travel conditions during flood events, and it will direct heavy vehicles away from Kempsey and Frederickton.
Earlier this month, it was announced that the bypass upgrade will be finished one year ahead of schedule, and is now expected to open to traffic mid-2013.
“No doubt the news this project will be completed early will be welcomed by all users of the highway as well as Kempsey residents who will soon see up to 2,000 fewer trucks on their local streets,” said Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese in a statement. “The rapid progress to date on this project is a tribute to the some 450 workers who have been working tirelessly to make this bypass a reality.”
Albanese was joined by NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, who said the timetable shift boded well for further roadwork down the line. “Today’s news shows it is possible to fast track work on the Pacific Highway, and our government is investigating options to do that, particularly on deadly stretches of the highway,” he says.
The advanced schedule was also good news to Richie Williamson, the head of the Pacific Highway Taskforce, a north coast group lobbying group. He says it is exactly what he and others have been campaigning for. “The taskforce has been lobbying long and hard to ensure the Pacific Highway is dual carriageway by 2016, and the news that the bypass of Kempsey will be completed ahead of time is something we are certainly welcoming,” Williamson says.
Like Stoner, Williamson hopes the early completion date will lead to other projects being fast-tracked. “Of course, the pressure really is now on the state government to ensure that other sections of the Pacific Highway are upgraded immediately as well. I think the motivation should be there, and the community certainly wants the upgrade of the Pacific highway to dual carriageway.”