Upgrade ready for use

STAGE one of the 7.5km Glenugie upgrade to the Pacific Highway will open about mid-morning on Monday - initially adding about 3.5 kilometres of four-lane divided carriageway to the highway.

An additional three kilometres of divided highway will come on board in either late December or early January when the southern section of the existing roadway is upgraded for north-bound traffic.

The northern section of the existing highway, with its steep inclines and tight bends, will become a service road for residents and state-forest users.

Speeds will drop to 80kmh in the first three months of the "traffic switch" before being raised to 100kmh.

Why not 110kmh? The RTA's project manager said the upgrade was too short and a 110kmh speed zone would confuse drivers.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese flew into Grafton yesterday from Perth for a quick tour of the $60 million upgrade with Member for Page Janelle Saffin, Clarence Valley Council representatives and project stakeholders.

Mr Albanese stood by earlier promises that the remaining 340 kilometres the highway's of single carriageway would be made dual carriageway by 2016.

"It's hard but if you don't set a target you won't be trying to achieve it," he said.

The RTA's master plan for the Pacific Highway document states 337 kilometres of the 677 kilometres of highway between Hexham and Queensland are now four-lane dual-carriageway and about 67 kilometres are under construction. This leaves 273 kilometres of highway which has yet to be started.

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