Ballina bypass better late, great
THE northern section of the Ballina Bypass was opened to motorists for the first time yesterday afternoon.
The anticipation was drawn out throughout the day after the opening was delayed several times from noon to 4:30 pm.
Media joined a tour of the wide-lane dual-carriageway, which was a dream to drive on compared to the old highway route.
Northbound drivers entered the bypass just before Cumbalum Road, where it was single carriageway for several hundred metres before the road opened up and allowed for easy, safe driving.
The bypass continued for 5.9km and northbound drivers came out at the Ross Lane interchange.
The dual carriageway was lined with tension wires and north and sound bound lanes were separated by a wide grass median strip.
Cyclists were also given consideration with a lane of their own on each side of the carriageway.
The bypass meandered through the rolling hills of Teven with views of macadamia farms and picturesque houses.
Motorists drove parallel to the notorious black spot of Tintenbar Hill, which would now only carry local traffic.
Tintenbar Hill has been the scene of countless crashes, including a B-double truck explosion two months ago that claimed the life of the driver.
In August 2007, a truck driver died when his B-double rolled while trying to navigate a bend at the notorious Sandy Flat at Tintenbar.
The bypass would also steer traffic away from the Tintenbar Road-Pacific Highway black spot.
It was estimated the northern section of the bypass would take five to eight minutes off travel time into Ballina.
Once the entire Ballina Bypass was completed, travel time would be cut by 12 minutes.
The northern section opening was one part of the $640 million Ballina Bypass project.
The southern section of the bypass was expected to open mid 2012 and would include 12km of four-lane road and six-lanes between Teven Road and the Bruxner Highway.