TODAY’S breakthrough of the northbound tunnel through St Helena Hill marks another major milestone in the upgrade of the Pacific Highway between Tintenbar and Ewingsdale.
The Federal Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, joined the Member for Page, Kevin Hogan, and the New South Wales Minister for Roads and Ports, Duncan Gay, to mark the occasion.
“The 434 metre long twin tunnels through St Helena Hill are a major part of this project and the breakthrough of the northbound tunnel is an important milestone,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“The tunnels are 19 metres wide and 46 metres deep at the crest of the ridgeline.
“They will form part of the new 17.3 kilometres of divided highway replacing the section of Pacific Highway between Tintenbar to Ewingsdale.
“The new highway will reduce travel times and enhance safety by improving traffic flow and providing easier access to and from the highway.”
Mr Hogan said construction of this upgrade began late September 2012 and was expected to be completed by mid-2015.
“When this project is finished, we will have a highway that is motorway standard, with a speed limit of 110 kilometres per hour,” Mr Hogan said.
“This section is part of the duplication of the Pacific Highway, which the Australian and New South Wales governments have been jointly funding since 1996.”
Mr Gay said 375 kilometres of the overall duplication of Pacific Highway had been completed.
“More than 117,000 cubic metres of basalt rock has been drilled and blasted since work started on the two tunnels in December 2012,” Mr Gay said.
“Drivers are already saving an average of 80 to 90 minutes travel time between Hexham and the Queensland border.”
Member for Ballina Don Page said motorists could expect significant overall time savings when works are finished.
“The overall travel time savings are expected to increase to 2.5 hours when the entire upgrade is complete,” he said.
The Australian Government has committed $566.1 million to the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale upgrade, and the New South Wales Government has committed $295.9 million.