Construction of the new Harwood Bridge, a part of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade, will now include a southbound exit ramp.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, who announced the change in a press release last week, said the interchange’s design was refined in response to Roads and Maritime’s community consultations.
The former interchange design’s preferred option was to split the interchange to both sides of the river (southbound traffic leaves the highway on the Harwood side and northbound traffic on the south side).
Pacific Highway upgrade general manager Bob Higgins said in January this year that a southern exit ramp was excluded due to budgetary constraints.
Commenting following a meeting with the Yamba of Chamber of Commerce just before Christmas 2014, Mr Higgins said: “We have a set budget focussed on delivering as much as we can with the money we’ve got.
“There are some additional costs involved [to construct an off ramp on the southern side of the river]; at this stage we don’t see there is a warrant for the traffic volumes involved … to build this ramp at this stage.
“Both interchanges are connected by using the existing [Harwood] bridge.”
Mr Gulaptis said the “additional exit ramp on the southern side of the Clarence River for Yamba and Maclean traffic was included in the long-term design and has now been brought forward to be built as part of the highway upgrade to be completed by 2020”.
“We received highly supportive feedback from both the community and key stakeholders, in particular the Yamba Chamber of Commerce, requesting the additional exit ramp for Yamba Road to be built now,” he said.
“We listened to those concerns and carried out further traffic studies to better understand current and estimated future use of the Yamba Harwood interchange.
“After reviewing options, analysing current and future traffic volumes … the additional exit ramp will be built now to provide a better public value outcome for both highway traffic and local residents.”
Mr Gulaptis said the off ramp will “improve connectivity between Yamba and the Pacific Highway, as well as cater for future traffic volumes”.
“Cost efficiencies identified in the Harwood Yamba interchange design will be used to fund the exit ramp being built now within the final and approved budget,” he said.
“Concept designs for the revised Harwood Yamba interchange will be released next month.”
For more information go to www.rms.nsw.gov.au/W2B.