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The southbound lanes of a section of the Pacific Motorway on Chatsworth Island are being reconstructed. Image: Contributed

Highway reconstruction always planned

Geoff Helisma

Reconstructing the Pacific Motorway’s southbound lanes as it crosses Chatsworth Island “was always intended at a later date”, says Transport for NSW.

Some residents were wondering why the road was being torn up, following Page MP Kevin Hogan’s and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis’s announcement in September last year that “motorists [were] set to enjoy nine kilometres of dual carriageway opening between Maclean and Mororo”.

A post on the ‘Iluka NSW Community – General Information and Noticeboard’ Facebook page posed: “Impressive, the new super highway, how long did it last, quality control???”

Responses to the post proposed various reasons for the highway’s reconstruction, including flood damage, allegations that the “wrong people” had worked on that part of the highway, engineering failures, the original contractor went bankrupt, the floodplain subsurface is unstable, and it was rushed to meet the government’s deadline.

The Independent asked the following questions:

  • Why is the highway being torn up, given it was resurfaced as part of the upgrade?
  • Was it a failure by a contractor?
  • If so, why is more public money being spent on the repairs?
  • If not, please explain what has happened?
  • Was the pavement failure caused by the recent flooding?
  • Was the pavement failure caused by the unstable floodplain subsurface?
  • If the pavement failure was caused by question 5 or/and 6, what does that mean regarding future maintenance of that section of the highway?

Transport NSW replied: “The southbound lanes in this section of the Pacific Motorway used pavement from the old highway as a base and had new asphalt laid over the top.

“This section of the motorway was not fully rebuilt and reconstruction was always intended at a later date.

“Transport for NSW has been able to upgrade the southbound lanes at Chatsworth Island sooner than originally anticipated due to stimulus funding from the NSW Safer Roads Program and the Australian Government’s $140 million Targeted Road Safety Program.

“The pavement on this section has not failed due to flooding.”

The reconstruction of the 4.2 kilometre section is funded by the NSW Safer Roads Program and the Australian Government’s $140 million Targeted Road Safety Program at a cost of $6.7million

Transport for NSW Director North Region, Anna Zycki, said in a media release the works “will also help support about 40 jobs and five local suppliers and contractors”.