Detailed design for the realignment of the New England Highway over Bolivia Hill has been finalised, with tenders for its construction to be called soon. Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) expects work to build the upgrade to start early next year, taking two years to complete.
The $60 million project aims to improve the poor crash record of the stretch of road, characterised by narrow lanes and road shoulders, with a rock face on one side and a steep rock valley on the other.
“The preferred route for the Bolivia Hill Realignment was selected in 2014, and the detailed design work carried out since early 2016 is now complete,” Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said.
Mr Chester met with Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce at Bolivia Hill on Saturday to announcement the project milestone.
“This is a project that will change lives and save lives and is just one of several big-ticket projects we are delivering along the New England Highway, including the Scone Bypass and further planning for the Tenterfield Heavy Vehicle Bypass,” Mr Chester said.
Mr Joyce said the planned upgrades on the highway between Glen Innes and Tenterfield would make significant improvements to what is currently narrow lanes and tight bends in the road.
“Anyone who has driven the Bolivia Hill section knows it can be slow and tricky due to the many bends and narrow passes on the road. This upgrade is going to make a big difference to driver safety, with its new 320-metre-long bridge, wider lanes in each direction and widened road shoulders.
This upgrade is going to make a big difference to driver safety, with its new 320-metre-long bridge, wider lanes in each direction and widened road shoulders.Barnaby Joyce
“It is going to improve safety for all drivers on this stretch of the highway and make life a lot easier for heavy vehicle operators. This will support local producers reliant on good transport links to get goods to market in a competitive manner.”
State Member for Lismore Thomas George said a range of issues had been considered in the delivery of the project to ensure the community’s needs were met.
“This upgrade will be vital for the community, but equally, we need to protect the local environment. Roads and Maritime Services has begun collecting seeds from Bolivia Hill Wattle trees which are unique to the area,” Mr George said.
“These stored seeds will then be planted at a later date, including at the end of construction, ensuring we retain the region’s unique characteristics.
“Roads and Maritime Services will continue to work with key stakeholders and the community as design work progresses and I am looking forward to seeing this project reach completion.”
The Australian Government has committed $55 million to this project with the New South Wales Government providing $5 million.