Beware the highway

By | Category: Travel rumblings

roadworks in Northern NSW to upgrade the Pacific Highway.

The Pacific Highway in Australia is one of the most mis-named roads in the world. Its “highway” status is probably limited to no more than a couple of hundred kilometres yet the road runs for thousands of kilometres along the coast of eastern Australia.

It is being upgraded in one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Australia which –says the information about the task – will be completed in 2020.

Until then, it makes driving a chore. nd it will still be a chore after completion.

Australians are used to driving long distances but driving kilometre after kilometre at 60 or 80kms behind a string of vehicles is not just boring but dangerous. The tedium that such a speed engenders can be soporific. Despite signs everywhere along the highway telling you to take a break, the time you need a break is when travelling in the roadworks.

From just north of Grafton until Ballina (over 120 kilometres) there are almost continuous roadworks. But even below this from Taree northwards there are roadworks in places.

And does it need improving!

Why upgarde 155 kms of road at the same time? Why not uprade it in smaller bites so that drivers are less inconvenienced?

If you drive from Sydney to Ballina near the Queensland border it will take the average driver about ten hours driving time. When the highway is finished I think you might be able to save an hour. But there are places that are on the highway where the quality of the road is bad being rutted and with the tarmac worn away. From around the Ourimbah turn off only sixty or so kilometres north of Sydney up until the turn for Cessnock and the wine growing area of the Hunter valley, the ruts are likely to throw a car around and you will certainly feel the journey.

It all comes down to whether any visitor from other parts of the world would look on the Pacific Highway as being a motorway/highway/freeway at all! For hundreds of kilometres it is single lane; for most of the highway it is merely a dual carriageway and the upgrade doesn’t plan on it being any wider. There are traffic lights and roundabouts, towns where you have to drop to 50 kilometres an hour such as the picturesque town of Ulmarra in northern NSW. Surely a modern highway isn’t described like this.

Even when the highway improvements are made there will still be traffic lights and school zones to face. Surely the time has come to call this road the Pacific Road which – in a few places – is of a highway standard.

For visitors the option is to fly, to catch a train or to face the highway. The train is astonishingly slow and can be expensive and regional flights can be expensive unless you fly to busy airports. Even with all its problems, the Pacific Highway is the best solution!

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