About this project

Updates and announcements

Project approval received

The State Minister for Planning and Environment approved the project on 24 June 2014.

On 14 August 2014, the Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt approved the project in accordance with Part 9 of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Most of the federal conditions of approval are consistent with the NSW conditions of approval except for a number of additional conditions for the Ballina koala population.

The additional conditions require Roads and Maritime to demonstrate the impacts of the upgrade to the Ballina koala population will be acceptable, before section 10 (Broadwater to Coolgardie) of the highway upgrade can start.

For the remaining sections of the upgrade, Federal approval has been given with 27 strict conditions to minimise environmental impacts, including a range of mitigation measures on the proposed route which are critical to avoid impacts to koalas and other threatened species.

View or download the Federal approval (PDF, 2.7MB)
View or download the State approval (PDF, 2.7MB)

Project background

The Woolgoolga to Ballina project is Australia’s largest regional infrastructure project and will duplicate about 155 kilometres to four-lane divided road.

The project starts about six kilometres north of Woolgoolga (north of Coffs Harbour) and ends about six kilometres south of Ballina (see map).

The proposed upgrade does not include the completed Devils Pulpit and Glenugie upgrade projects.

When complete, the 155 kilometre Woolgoolga and Ballina project will:

  • Reduce overall length from 180 kilometres to 167 kilometres, saving about 13 kilometres in travel distance
  • Allow for a higher posted speed limit of up to 110 km/h
  • Reduce travel time from 130 minutes to about 105 minutes, saving 25 minutes
  • Reduce crash rates by an expected 27 per cent due to divided carriageways.
  • Improve travel reliability through better flood immunity, fewer incidents and more readily available alternative routes.

Key features of the upgrade include:

  • Duplication of 155 kilometres of the Pacific Highway to a motorway standard (Class M) or arterial road (Class A), with two lanes in each direction and room to add a third lane if required in the future
  • Split-level (grade-separated) interchanges at Range Road, Glenugie, Tyndale, Maclean, Yamba / Harwood, Woombah (Iluka Road), Woodburn, Broadwater and Wardell
  • Bypasses of South Grafton, Ulmarra, Woodburn, Broadwater and Wardell
  • More than 100 bridges over rivers, creeks and floodplains, including major bridges crossing the Clarence and Richmond rivers
  • Bridges over and under the highway to maintain access to local roads that cross the highway
  • Access roads to maintain connections to existing local roads and properties
  • Structures designed to encourage animals over and under the upgraded highway where it crosses key animal habitat or wildlife corridors
  • Rest areas located at about 50 kilometre intervals at Pine Brush (Tucabia) and north of Mororo Road
  • A heavy vehicle checking station near Halfway Creek.

Key statistics

  • Building 155km of four-lane divided road
  • Bypasses of South Grafton, Ulmarra, Woodburn, Broadwater and Wardell
  • Open to traffic by 2020
  • 13km travel distance saving
  • 25 minute travel time saving
  • More than 75km to be built under traffic
  • 10 split-level interchanges
  • More than 100 bridges
  • 14.2 million m3 earthwork
  • Peak of 2500 direct and 7500 indirect jobs
  • Single Environmental Impact Statement for whole 155km project
  • Direct impact on 37 threatened species (67 within 10km)
  • About 130 wildlife crossings
  • 932ha of vegetation clearing
  • Biodiversity offset strategy
  • NSW Planning approval June 2014
  • Pre-approved extended working hours.
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