Project Spotlight: Coffs Harbour Bypass

Coffs Harbour Bypass, NSW, transport for NSW,

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The $2.2 billion Coffs Harbour bypass project will provide a 14km four-lane divided highway, aimed to improve connectivity, road transport efficiency and safety.

About the Coffs Harbour Bypass project

Transport for New South Wales is building a 12km bypass of Coffs Harbour from south of Englands Road to Korora Hill in the north and a 2km upgrade of an existing highway between Kororo and Sapphire. The Coffs Harbour Bypass project will consist of a four-lane divided highway that bypasses Coffs Harbour, passing through Boambee Valley, Roberts Hill, and to the north and west to Korora Hill. 

Currently, the North Coast of NSW, including Coffs Harbour is experiencing high levels of congestion, and traffic volumes are expected to increase over time. The bypass project will ease congestion, and improve freight efficiency and transport safety.

The $2.2 billion project is jointly funded by the Federal Government and NSW Government. The Federal Government contributed $1.8 billion, whereas the NSW Government contributed $440 million.

Transport for NSW’s major contractor, Ferrovial Gamuda Joint Venture began major construction in March 2023, with the Coffs Harbour Bypass scheduled to open in late 2027.

Ferrovial Gamuda Joint Venture to construct Coffs Harbour Bypass

What are the benefits of Coffs Harbour Bypass

The Coffs Harbour Bypass is one of the most prioritised infrastructure projects for the NSW and Australian Governments, as the Pacific Highway is one of the significant contributors to Australia’s economy. Building and upgrading the project’s 14km four-lane divided highway will substantially benefit Coffs Harbour and the surrounding communities.

The new bypass is a critical link in the National Land Transport Network, connecting Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. It will save motorists 12 minutes of travel time by avoiding 12 sets of traffic lights and remove vehicles from the Coffs Harbour Central Business District (CBD). It will also deliver road freight efficiency for heavy vehicles for easy access to towns.

Approximately 600 engineering and construction jobs will be offered for the Coffs Harbour Bypass project, supporting the economic development of Coffs Harbour and the North Coast.

The completion of the project will increase road safety for local, regional and interstate road users, significantly reducing the risk of accidents. It will also create a more reliable route with improvements in flood tolerance. Upgrading the 2km between Kororo and Sapphire will ensure the safety of pedestrians and cyclists through Coffs Harbour.

Key Features of the Coffs Harbour Bypass project

The $2.2 billion Coffs Harbour Bypass project will feature a 14km bypass off the Coffs Harbour urban region, from Englands Road in the south to Sapphire in the north. It will consist of a four-lane divided highway from the Englands Road roundabout to the dual carriageway highway at Sapphire. Grade-separated interchanges will also be constructed at Englands Road, Korora Hill, and Coramba Road.

Ferrovial Gamuda Joint Venture will build a one-way local access road between the southern tie-in and England Road to connect properties to the road network route. Three tunnels will also be built through ridges at Roberts Hill (190m long), Shephards Lane (360m long), and Gatelys Road (450m long). Bridges will be constructed to pass over creeks, local roads, and the North Coast Railway, which will involve a series of cuttings and embankments.

The project also includes the construction of two new pedestrian and cycling facilities.

The first stages of construction have begun and will involve the following:

  • Establishing access points to the corridor, drainage, bridgework and compound sites
  • Removing vegetation in the project corridor and along the project boundary
  • Installing project boundary fencing
  • Building removals for the new Englands Road interchange
  • Building new road connections between Russ Hammond Close and Korora School Road

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) 

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) details the impact of the Coffs Harbour development on the environment. This involves sufficient information related to the environmental, social, and economic impacts associated with the proposal. Identifying and assessing the impacts will minimise, avoid and manage significant implications for the Coffs Harbour project.

 

Transport for New South Wales released the Coffs Harbour Bypass proposals for a public exhibition to obtain community feedback. Since the release of the EIS in September 2019, a few design amendments have been made to the proposed construction activities displayed in the EIS. The six construction and design improvements made include:

  • Englands Road Interchange
  • North Boambee Valley vertical alignment
  • Coramba road bus stop
  • Coffs Ceek flood mitigation
  • Korora Hill interchange
  • Kororo Public School bus interchange

The original environmental impact statement designs, amendments, and construction updates of each proposal will be discussed below.

Englands Road interchange

The Englands Road Interchange was developed with Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) to improve the design of the original interchange. All these changes were implemented to improve traffic flow, improve connectivity and manage visual and noise impacts.

One of the original features proposed included a northbound exit ramp that would connect to a new signalised intersection with the existing Pacific Highway, Englands Road and Stadium Drive. Another involved a one-way local access road to provide access between properties west of the highway. Engineers revised the alignment for the northbound exit ramp, and the new one-way local access road will be constructed to reduce impacts on the Coffs Coast Recovery Park.

Traffic lights along Englands Road were proposed to allow safe entry on both sides of Coffs Harbour. However, a roundabout about 116m in diameter will replace the set of traffic lights. This provides maximised connections between Englands Road, Isles Drive, the northbound entry ramp and the southbound entry ramp.

Early works have begun on the new England Road interchange, including establishing access points to the corridor, bridgework and compound sites, installing project boundary fencing, and additional building removals.

North Boambee Valley vertical alignment 

The changes to the vertical alignment through North Boambee Valley are to reduce flooding impacts, earthworks, and the project footprint.

The features proposed in the original Environmental Impact Statement included a new four-lane divided highway to the north of Englands Road towards North Boambe.

A vital feature proposed in the original EIS included a 130m realignment of Newports Creek around the bridge’s piers over the tributary. The construction team will lower the bridge pier to provide a minimum clearance of 4.6 metres over North Boambee Road to maintain access. Transport for New South Wales continues to consult with the Coffs Harbour City Council about clearance requirements for North Boambee Road. Also, the tributary of Newports Creek to the north of North Boambee Road will be built to a bank of box culverts rather than a 64m long bridge.

Coramba road bus stop 

Design refinement improvements were made since the proposal’s release to the existing informal bus stop on the corner of Coramba Road and Spagnolos Road. Making amendments will provide a safe and accessible area for multiple buses to stop simultaneously. The design was approved and consulted with the school bus operator and the Coffs Harbour City Council.

The original design required the removal of an existing informal school bus stop at the intersection of Coramba Road and Spagnolos Road. The new Coramba Road bus stop will be located on the north side of Coramba Road and 50m east of Spahnolos Road to ensure that there will be capacity for four 12.5m buses.

The design refinement will include a raised concrete median separating the facility and public users from Coramba Road traffic, a cul-de-sac providing an informal area for parents/carers to park, and a safe drop-off zone. The Coffs Harbour Bypass project also includes adding a bus shelter and a shared user path to connect Spagnolos Road with the new bus stop on Coramba Road.

Overall, it will protect the facility and its users from Coramba road traffic and improve the safety of pedestrians, bus users and motorists using the freeway.

Coffs Creek flood mitigation 

Further design investigation was made to control the flood mitigation measures within the Coffs Creek catchment area. Design changes developed for Coffs Creek are to reduce potential flood impacts within the region and the need to excavate the Bennetts Road detention basin.

The original design included bridges, culverts, and additional flood storage to reduce flood impacts. It involved the excavation of 26,600 cubic metres of the Bennetts Road detention basin to increase the flood storage capacity. However, the new amendment will no longer require the Bennetts Road detention basin excavation, resulting in a boundary change that would reduce property impacts.

Additional flood storage will also be provided downstream and upstream of the project to reduce flood levels in Coffs Creek. A downstream farm dam will be excavated to increase the basin to 11,500 cubic metres. An upstream retention basin will be included, increasing the capacity to 14,500 cubic metres.

Korora Hill interchange

 

The changes to the Korora Hill Interchange are to provide more direct access to and from Coffs Harbour, improve traffic flow, improve access to existing properties, improve functionality by simplifying the design for connectivity with the local road network, and reduce the footprint of the interchange.

Initially, the Korora Hill Interchange features involved a realignment of the existing Pacific Highway in passing beneath the Coffs Harbour bypass and merging with the northbound entry and exit ramp. It will now include a northbound entry ramp from the existing Pacific Highway via a bridge over a roundabout at the intersection of Bruxner Park Road and slip lanes to and from the existing Pacific Highway.

The project will also include a new roundabout below the northbound entry ramp and southbound exit ramp. This will provide better access between Bruxner Park Road, James Small Drive, and Pacific Highway and replace two traffic lights.

Engineering firm ‘Quickway’ to start construction on Coffs Harbour Bypass

Kororo public school bus interchange

The design and location of the Kororo Public School bus Interchange have changed since the release of the EIS. After working with the Coffs Harbour City Council, Kororo Public School and the community, a few design refinements were made.

The benefits of the construction change will separate bus and vehicle entry points with barriers and fencing to remove conflict points between pedestrians and vehicles, reduce congestion on the service road during school peak hours, and provide a bus interchange that caters to several 12.5m buses.

Initially, the Kororo Public School bus interchange involved a bus interchange for a capacity of seven 12.5m buses and 52 staff car park spaces. It will now have the capacity for eight buses and 30 staff car park spaces. The initial design was to have the pick-up/drop-off bays on the service road adjacent to Kororo Public School. It will now be provided within the bus interchange, accessed via the service road. A barrier will separate the bus interchange and bays so vehicles will be away from the bus zone.

Ferrovial Gamuda Joint Venture will soon build new road connections between Campbell Close and Pacific Highway, and Russ Hammond Close and Korora School Road.

Kororo Public School bus interchange

Read more about the construction design changes here.

Numerous Coffs Harbour Bypass project elements have changed since the construction and design improvements. This includes the construction footprint, additional blasting, new and revised ancillary sites, and construction traffic management.

The construction footprint has been amended based on the reflection of the design improvements. This indicates that the area required for work, such as drainage structures, waterway realignments, ancillary sites, sediment control measures and access roads, will all be modified.

Construction methodology for bulk earthworks has been reassessed based on the analysis of amended designs. Approximately 36 excavations of cuttings where deep hard rock is likely to be encountered will require controlled blasting.

Coffs Harbour Bypass will require four new construction ancillary sites and two revised construction ancillary sites.

The Coffs Harbour Bypass project will require two new construction access roads. A new Traffic Management Plan (TMP) will be prepared, including measures to manage short-term traffic impacts during construction. While construction occurs, access to Korora School Road from the existing Pacific Highway must be closed. The project will also require a temporary connection to maintain full access to Kororo Public School and the surrounding residential properties on Korora School Road.

Overall, the project is a prioritised infrastructure project despite the ongoing consultation regarding construction and design improvements. It will bring numerous engineering and construction jobs to the region and increase road safety for motorists. The $2.2 billion Coffs Harbour Bypass will open for traffic in late 2027.

Source: © State of New South Wales and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment 2023

Image source: © State of New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment 2023

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