Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass to include tunnels.
Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass to include tunnels.

Action group ready for ‘world war three’ over bypass plans

THE long-anticipated 2020 start date for the Coffs Harbour Bypass is looking increasingly unlikely.

Submission on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) are in but these will now be collated into a Response to Submissions report which isn't due out until mid-2020.

For Rod McKelvey, a driving force behind the Coffs Harbour Bypass Action Group (CHBAG), it's important to get it right rather than rushed but it will be "world war three" if tunnels are not part of the final product.

"We have the same basic rock like up at St Helena (the tunnel near Byron Bay) and there was no issue about doing a tunnel there so if they turn around and come back with no tunnels and we get cuttings it's basically going to be world war three because that's garbage," Mr McKelvey said.

 

The route passes through the North Boambee Valley, through the Roberts Hill ridgeline and then traverses the foothills of the Coffs Harbour basin west and north to Korora Hill.virtual drive on the $1.2 billion Coffs Harbour Bypass.
The route passes through the North Boambee Valley, through the Roberts Hill ridgeline and then traverses the foothills of the Coffs Harbour basin west and north to Korora Hill.virtual drive on the $1.2 billion Coffs Harbour Bypass.

The CHBAG has warned against the awarding of 'design and construct' contracts as opposed to 'construct only' for projects of this size.

In the Sydney suburb of Rozelle for example there's been some unexpected 'modifications' for the final stage of the $16.8 Billion Dollar WestConnex Project which left the community outraged.

"This is exactly why the Coffs Bypass Action Group has been calling for a construct only contract.

"It's yet another example of design changes being made during the construction process and to make things worse, in this case, the so-called modifications come years after better design plans had been agreed upon with the community."

 

The Coffs Harbour community has been waiting decades for a bypass.
The Coffs Harbour community has been waiting decades for a bypass.

The group is satisfied with alterations made to the Englands Road and Korora Hill interchanges announced in November last year but has questioned the current noise modelling and the vexed issue of dangerous goods.

Currently plans indicate tunnels on the Coffs Harbour Bypass will not be able to accommodate dangerous goods and they will all still need to pass through town but the CHBAG has questioned this based on similar tunnels in other regions that safely accommodate them.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment received 189 submissions for the Coffs Harbour Bypass proposal.

The 14km bypass will stretch from Englands Road in the south and through to the newly upgraded Sapphire to Woolgoolga section in the north.
The 14km bypass will stretch from Englands Road in the south and through to the newly upgraded Sapphire to Woolgoolga section in the north.

The Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) will now prepare the Response to Submissions report which addresses all issues raised by the community, council and government agencies during the exhibition period.

"Should any changes be proposed in response to the submissions or to improve the design of the project, the applicant (RMS) will be required to submit an Amendment Report detailing and assessing the proposed changes to the project. The Response to Submissions report and Amendment Report (if required) will be published on the Department's Major Projects website," a Department of Planning, Industry and Environment spokesperson said.

"Once the report is received, the Department will thoroughly assess the project, taking into account all issues raised before making a recommendation to the Planning and Public Spaces Minister for determination."

For more information go to the project page or to the NSW Government's planning portal.

The next meeting of the Coffs Harbour Bypass Action Group will be on February 13 at the Cavanbah Centre at 6.30pm.