Jun 14, 2012

Building for the future discovers road from the past

Advances in engineering, discoveries of new construction materials and developments in automobile technology have revolutionised road building in recent decades, and there is no better example of this progress than a recent discovery near the NSW Mid North Coast town of Woolgoolga.

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese today confirmed that a timber structure unearthed by workers rebuilding the Pacific Highway between Sapphire and Woolgoolga is thought to be remnants of an old road built early last century using a technique dating back to as early as 4,000BC.

“Known as ‘corduroy roads’, they were largely improvised and temporary structures consisting of logs placed side-by-side with the aim of making it easier for vehicles such as horse drawn coaches to cross uneven, muddy or swampy terrain,” said Mr Albanese.

“It is fitting that this example of ancient road construction was discovered by those working on what will be our most modern piece of road infrastructure, designed and built using the latest engineering techniques and materials.  Indeed, unlike the slow bone shaking experience of a corduroy road, the new Pacific Highway will offer its users fast, smooth and safe driving conditions.”

The old timber structure runs parallel to and within 10 metres of the existing Woolgoolga Creek Road.

NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay said to determine its heritage value Ainsworth Heritage was contracted to carry out an archaeological survey of the discovery and make recommendations for its removal to a suitable permanent location.

“About 100 metres long, the structure is a real piece of history.  While its original purpose remains open to speculation, it is possible that it was put there to assist with the construction of the British-Australian Timber Company tramway which was completed in 1907,” said Mr Gay.

The final report from Ainsworth Heritage is now available at www.rms.nsw.gov.au.

The upgrade and duplication of the Pacific Highway between Sapphire and Woolgoolga is being jointly funded by the Federal ($632 million) and the NSW ($73 million) governments.