alstonvillesod-007At last, it’s under way. The first sod was turned today on the Alstonville bypass, marking the end of a 40-year campaign.

After many years of pleading, many years of broken promises and many years of heartbreak for bypass campaigners, the $90 million project became a reality when Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, and the Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, today inspected the site and turned the first sod on the long awaited bypass.

“This project is part of our nation-building plan to support local economies during the current global economic recession and is expected to provide up to 140 direct jobs,” said Mr Albanese.

“In fact, work on the project is starting earlier than previously expected as a direct result of the Government’s decision to bring forward the necessary funding.

“The Alstonville bypass will clear a major bottleneck on the road between Ballina and Lismore, and improve safety by taking up to 7000 cars and trucks off local streets.”

The project will involve construction of a new 6.2 kilometre stretch of highway to bypass Alstonville and Wollongbar. 

Ms Saffin welcomed the commencement of work on this crucial election commitment.

“Many people thought the day would never come when work would start on the Alstonville bypass, but I made an election commitment that the bypass would go ahead, and today is the proof that the Rudd Government delivers,” she said.

“This is the first step in the transformation of Alstonville from a heavy traffic thoroughfare into a pedestrian-friendly heritage village. There are huge road-safety benefits for residents, particularly the local schoolchildren.

“And the bypass will be welcomed by the thousands of motorists who use the Bruxner Highway between Lismore and Ballina every day because it will remove the single-lane bottleneck through Alstonville’s main street.”

The new bypass is scheduled to be open for traffic at the end of 2010.

The Alstonville bypass is part of the $8.6 billion the Rudd Labor Government will be investing in NSW’s critical road and rail infrastructure over the next six years through its Nation Building Program.

PICTURE: Janelle Saffin and Anthony Albanese turn the first sod on the Alstonville bypass project.