It’s been a long time coming and there have been many broken promises along the way, but this week’s Federal Budget announcement of funding for the Alstonville bypass will be warmly welcomed not just by Alstonville residents, but also by thousands of commuters.

The residents of Alstonville have had to endure the movement of thousands of vehicles through the main street of their village, and the daily morning and evening rush hours have produced many incidents.

As well as the dangers of heavy traffic loads through the narrow main street, there has also been much angst for commuters; the peak-hour morning traffic has often led to bottlenecks and frequent delays for drivers rushing to work.

A bypass action group led by the likes of Bob Wilson has campaigned long and hard for funding for a decade, and no doubt they feel more than a hint of saisfaction after this week’s announcement.

The Federal member for Page, Janelle Saffin, says the fast-tracking of the bypass is good news for the local community.

In Tuesday’s Federal Budget, the Government announced $13.6 million in advanced funding for the project in 2008-2009 so work could start a year earlier than scheduled.

Federal Labor’s election commitment was for $90 million to be available from Auslink 2 funding, covering the period from 2009-2014.

Ms Saffin said the Rudd Labor Government has released some of the $90 million commitment early because it regards the Alstonville bypass as a significant and long overdue road project .

“We want work to begin as soon as possible and I can’t foresee any impediments to tenders soon being called and for work to start in this coming financial year,” she said.

“I applaud Bob Wilson and his Alstonville Bypass Committee for keeping this project in the public eye for many years.

“When it’s completed the bypass will be of great benefit to all Alstonville Plateau residents, and commuters who travel between Lismore and the coast.”

The Ballina Bypass is also being fast-tracked, with $100 million  brought forward in the Federal Budget so construction work can get started.

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, said urgent action was needed to fix Australia’s over-stretched transport networks and build infrastructure to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

“That’s why we’re getting a head-start on projects for NSW that weren’t due to commence until 2009-10. The Budget infrastructure packages will deliver on our election commitments, tackle major bottlenecks and help make our roads safer,” Mr Albanese said.

The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) is proposing a 6.6 kilometre bypass of the Bruxner Highway at Alstonville.

The bypass will commence at Sneaths Road, Wollongbar, and rejoin the highway at the Tropical Fruit Research Station at Perrys Hill, east of Alstonville.

The RTA says: “The purpose of the bypass is to separate through and local traffic.

“Currently, 45 per cent of the highway traffic in Alstonville is not travelling to or from Alstonville/Wollongbar.

“The number of entry and exit points has been designed to accommodate existing and future land use and travel patterns.”