It may have taken over 20 years to complete Australia’s biggest regional road infrastructure project, but with the 657 kilometre Pacific Highway duplication between Hexham and the Queensland Border now finished, truckies using the route are set to benefit.
The upgrade is expected to deliver huge road safety improvements and time savings of up to three hours.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the benefits to the freight industry are immense.
“The Pacific Highway is the second busiest road freight route in Australia, behind the Hume Highway, with freight volumes on the upgraded section forecast to nearly double over the next 40 years to 23 million tonnes a year.
“The completion of the Pacific Highway upgrade will support this growth, allowing modern Higher Performance Vehicles to safely and efficiently travel between Sydney and Brisbane.
“The upgraded highway not only reduces travel times by almost three hours, but more modern and efficient vehicles means fewer vehicles on the road which improves safety, increases productivity and reduces freight costs.”
According to Jim Pearson, who operates long-established family business Jim Pearson Transport, one of the biggest benefits of the upgrade is improvements to safety.
“We have a fleet of about 260 modern higher productivity vehicles which make over 60 trips a day and the dual carriageway means there is plenty of room for higher capacity vehicles, making it safer for all road users,” Pearson said.
“It also means we can carry more goods in less time to get where they need to be, including supermarket shelves.”
The Pacific Highway upgrade has also contributed to significant regional growth on the NSW North Coast, including benefits to local services, tourism and the economy.
Sunshine Sugar provides over 400 direct jobs and is one of the largest contributors to the local economy, producing around 25 per cent of the domestic sugar market.
General Manager Operations David Wood said the Pacific Highway was critical to the timely delivery of products to customers with the duplication providing quicker, safer and more direct delivery into the Sydney and Brisbane markets.
“The upgrade has definitely been a positive for us, delivering savings in journey time, increased productivity and safer conditions for our drivers,” Wood said.
“The highway upgrade has reduced the amount of time required to move between our three sugar mills and has eliminated the risk for trucks turning directly on and off the highway at our sites.”
The opening of the new Wardell Bridge across the Richmond River as part of the upgrade has also seen the last remaining load-restricted bridge for HML vehicles on the Pacific Highway bypassed.