The massive job of rebuilding the Hume Highway which connects Australia’s two biggest cities has entered the home straight following the completion of work on two of the three remaining sections.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese today joined the State Member for Albury Greg Aplin and Greater Hume Shire Council Mayor Denise Osborne to officially open the new Woomargama Bypass and to confirm the new Tarcutta Bypass will open to traffic next week (15 November).
“After more than half a century of almost continuous construction work and the investment of billions of dollars by governments of both persuasions, the upgrade of this entire road to dual carriageway is on track to be fully completed in 2013,” said Mr Albanese.
“Once completed, this modern, well-engineered piece of road infrastructure – stretching over a distance of more than 800 kilometres – will be able to properly support our nation’s ongoing economic development, not just for the next three years but for the next three decades.
“Indeed, with the number of trucks transiting along this major freight corridor expected to nearly double within just the next 20 years, completion of this major nation building road project can’t come soon enough.”
Completed on-time and on budget, both the Woomargama and Tarcutta bypasses were fully Federally-funded projects. Work now underway on the final section – the new Holbrook Bypass – is expected to be completed by mid-2013 with funding from the Federal ($220 million) and NSW ($27 million) governments.
Representing the NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay at today’s celebrations, Mr Aplin said as well as delivering safer, smoother and faster journeys between Sydney to Melbourne, the upgrade of the Hume Highway will also benefit the local communities living up and down it.
“For instance, the two new bypasses will take up to 2,700 trucks a day off the local streets of Woomargama and Tarcutta, greatly improving the quality of life for their residents,” said Mr Aplin.
“I also take this opportunity to remind locals of the ‘open day’ which has been organised for this coming Sunday (13 November) so they can see for themselves the work that has gone into building the new Tarcutta Bypass before it opens to traffic the following Monday.
“To be hosted jointly by the builders – the Tarcutta Hume Alliance – and Wagga Wagga City Council, these celebrations will include activities for the children and a traditional sausage sizzle.”
The Hume Highway closely follows the path first taken by European explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell during their successful 1824 expedition to find an inland route from Sydney to Port Phillip, the site of modern day Melbourne.
Construction of what is now the Highway’s northern section between Picton and the Goulburn Plains begun in 1819 on the orders of Australia’s original nation builder, Governor Lachlan Macquarie.