Pacific Highway Macksville bypass could mean the end of holiday bottlenecks

A holiday tradition - Traffic is reduced to a crawl in 1968. Photo: Ronald Stewart.
A holiday tradition - Traffic is reduced to a crawl in 1968. Photo: Ronald Stewart.

IT'S a holiday tradition that most people won't miss – the Pacific Highway bottleneck at Macksville.

Almost on cue the queues would form, heading north and south, often backed up for over 20km, adding hours of travel time for holiday motorists.

But soon, fingers crossed and weather permitting, this will be a thing of the past – who knows, stories of lengthy delays may become the subject of family holiday folklore.

Some may venture to say that along with prawns, carols and plum pudding, bottlenecks have been an enduring if not unendearing Christmas ritual for generations of families.

Roads Minister Melinda Pavey has confirmed the new Macksville Bridge will officially open to traffic on Monday December 18.

But before cars take to the road the community is invited to walk on the new bridge over the Nambucca River.  It’s being billed as a once in a lifetime opportunity with all the appropriate fanfare.  

Once the Hume Highway was a horror stretch, too. For years, come Christmas, children suffered as family sedans remained gridlocked at Liverpool and all those towns in the Southern Highlands. But the road gradually opened up until duplication was completed in 2013 with Holbrook bypassed.

Early stages of the construction on the new highway bridge over the Nambucca River.

Early stages of the construction on the new highway bridge over the Nambucca River.

The year 2013 was a bumper one for bypassing, with Bulahdelah and Kempsey joining the long list of drive-by victims.

The Kempsey bypass required construction of Australia's longest road bridge, a giant 3.2-kilometre cement and steel structure built above the Macleay River floodplain.

The new Macksville Bridge has also been an impressive feat of engineering...see photos of the construction here.

While many will breathe a sigh of relief, the imminent bypassing of Macksville is not without concern as to the future of local business.

It’s an issue being grappled with by business owners in the recently bypassed town of Telegraph Point. 

But come Saturday December 16 all eyes will be on the impressive new structure that represents the latest development in the Pacific Highway Upgrade, one of the largest road infrastructure projects in NSW.

The northern end of the new Macksville bridge nearing completion.

The northern end of the new Macksville bridge nearing completion.