New South Wales, News, Road upgrades

Work forges ahead on $187.2 million Parkes Bypass despite hiccups

Despite its design being amended to address public concerns and a few other hiccups along the way, Parkes Shire Council mayor Neil Westcott says it’s all systems go for the $187.2 million Parkes Bypass project.

The 10.5-kilometre new section of the Newell Highway will be constructed to bypass the main street of the town, taking over 1200 heavy vehicles and other traffic away from the centre of town each day.

Parkes Shire Council mayor Neil Westcott released a statement yesterday to help allay concerns on the future of the project.

“There has been a lot said in the local media in the last few days regarding the future of the Parkes Bypass. I have been in continual contact with Transport for NSW (TfNSW), including the minister, and consequently I have no concern about the complete delivery of the bypass, including the Victoria Street Bridge,” he said.

“In my view TfNSW have done a great job consulting with the public then amending the design to address concerns. There is always compromise and construction impacts, and the occurrence of naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) was very unfortunate, but no one’s fault.

Westcott continued, “There are around 1200 trucks a day on Bogan Street, that is nearly 1 per minute, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, and by all predictions that is set to double. Eventually this would have a very significant impact on our CBD. Crossing Bogan Street is becoming noticeably more difficult day by day, so as traffic increases, a bypass was inevitable to protect the safety and functioning of our town.”

The Parkes Bypass project is part of a $1.4 billion investment from the Australian and NSW Governments into the Newell Highway Corridor.

The two-lane corridor will feature five key intersections and two new bridges, including one over Hartigan Avenue and the rail corridor and a second over the bypass on Victoria Street.

TfNSW says the Newell Highway is a critical link in Australia’s freight transport network, contributing to the competitiveness of Australia’s agricultural and mining sectors by opening up access to essential freight networks in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

“These upgrades will better connect our regional communities and increase access for higher efficiency freight vehicles,” TfNSW said.

“Work started in November 2021 and will be delivered in full, despite delays due to prolonged wet weather as well as the discovery of three areas of Naturally Occurring Asbestos (NOA) along the project alignment.

“This led to the pausing of work during 2023 while Transport for NSW and head contractor Georgiou worked on developing an Asbestos Management Plan in consultation with SafeWork and the Environment Protection Authority.

“While the discovery of NOA initially slowed construction, work was able to restart under controls in line with EPA guidelines under the site’s Asbestos Management Plan.

“Work is underway on multiple sections of the project including the Victoria Street bridge connection, with a major milestone to switch traffic onto a section of the newly built Hartigan Avenue extension planned for 28 February.”

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