The completion of 38 new overtaking lanes along the full length of the Newell Highway will save truckies up to 30 minutes in travelling time between Queensand and Victoria, says the NSW Government.
Speaking at an official ceremony to acknowledge the end of the four-year project, NSW Regional Transport and Roads Minister Jenny Aitchison said the 60km of overtaking lanes between Tocumwal in the south and Narrabri in the north represented a $236.8 million investment in regional NSW.
“Most of the new overtaking lanes are at least 1.5km long with the longest overtaking lane – at Tap Hill north of Gilgandra, measuring almost four times that,” Aitchison said.
“The 5.7km giant new lane was formed by closing the gap between two existing northbound overtaking lanes.
“Long distances are a fact of life in rural and regional NSW and the safety of all road users is our number one priority.
“The incredible work completed on the Newell Highway over the past four years will ensure more road users make it home safely to their family and friends.”
Eight of the new overtaking lanes have been built in the Pilliga, between Coonabarabran and Narrabri. An extra 12km of overtaking opportunities are now open at:
- Pilliga, about 15km north of Coonabarabran
- Dandry, about 30km north of Coonabarabran
- near the Pilliga Rest Area, about 63km north of Coonabarabran
- and near the Sir William Bridges Rest Area, about 24km south of Narrabri.
Interstate truckie Rod Hannifey, president of the National Road Freighters Association, welcomed the overtaking lanes, but estimates that the state government could have got 30 per cent more value if there had been more consultation with industry on where they were built.
He said many are in stretches that don’t need one, one in the Pilliga (at Cusack Creek) is on the wrong spot and also narrowed a parking bay, and they completely missed the troublesome Tooraweenah stretch.
“That’s where we really need one but they didn’t build any there,” Hannifey said.
“We have three hills in a row yet there are no overtaking lanes. They could have done a realignment as well, as part of it, and we would have got better value for the money.
“I appreciate that there intent was good. But many of the places where they have built overtaking lanes is where there are long flat straight sections of road where we could talk to one another and overtake one another and get away with it safely the majority of the time because the Newell is not as busy as the Hume.
“What they’ve done is to provide a guarantee of being able to pass instead of putting them [the overtaking lanes] where there was nowhere to pass and leaving those bits for us to work out ourselves.”
Hannifey said the project has also cost truckies the southbound parking bay at Back Creek and shrunk the northbound site from 10 spaces back to two.
“They said we can’t have it [the southbound site], but if I was there with a grader I’d have one built in about five minutes.”
Hannifey said the state government did the same thing on the Orange road on Guanna Hill and removed parking bays on both sides.
He also would like to see signs installed at the start of the overtaking lanes to tell truckies how long each one is.
“They’ve refused and said they’re all 1.8km. All I’ve asked for is a little sign, two-feet square, that said 1.8km and everybody would have known how much room they have to overtake.
“I’ve asked them to even do that as a trial and they’ve flatly refused.”
As well as new overtaking lanes, the project has also delivered six road safety improvements, including wider shoulders and centre lines to reduce off-road and head-on crashes, and the installation of audio tactile line marking (rumble strips) on the edges and centre of the highway.
The Australian Government contributed $60 million toward 19 of the overtaking lanes.