Tunnels, lower gradients and low-noise pavement have been included in the design for the Coffs Harbour bypass following community feedback.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack and NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole were in Coffs Harbour on Saturday ahead of the launch of the Coffs Harbour Bypass Environmental Impact Statement.
"We know how important a bypass is to the Coffs Harbour community and the Australian government is working with the NSW government to deliver this key infrastructure project," Mr McCormack said.
"The 14-kilometre bypass will get people across this beautiful region home sooner and safer, saving motorists 11 minutes of travel time, bypassing up to 12 sets of traffic lights and removing up to 12,000 vehicles a day from the CBD."
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"The release of the EIS is the next step in the process and I am excited to see planning for this critical project progressing."
Mr Toole said the EIS for the refined design would go on public exhibition on Wednesday, September 11.
"The decision to include three tunnels was arrived at after much investigation and is a direct result of consultation carried out with the community during the display of the preferred concept design last year," Mr Toole said.
"The community's feedback has also resulted in changes designed to reduce traffic noise, improve freight efficiency and minimise impacts on properties.
"With the upgrade of the Pacific Highway from Hexham to the Queensland border now more than 80 per cent complete, the Coffs Harbour bypass will be the final link in transforming journeys along the North Coast."
Labor candidate for Cowper at the last federal election Andrew Woodward said although he welcomed the design changes, which add 50 per cent or more than $600 million to the cost of the bypass, the need for tunnels instead of cuttings was a "no-brainer".
"The federal and NSW governments on Saturday announced bypass V2.0, with three tunnels and other improvements, would cost $1.8 billion as opposed to $1.171 billion as detailed last September," he said.
"The revelation of the price of bypass V2.0 confirms the Nationals tried to flog Coffs Harbour an El Cheapo sub-standard bypass less than 12 months ago."
Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan said the project would be a major boost for the region.
"This is a massive project that will create about 12,000 direct and indirect jobs over the duration of the project as well as developing skills in the local community, with subsequent boosts to regional economies," Mr Conaghan said.
"The refined design has a reduced impact on areas of Aboriginal cultural significance and noise.
"Three hundred hectares of natural habitat will also be protected through biodiversity offsets."
State Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said the refined design would deliver improved connectivity and was designed to minimise impact on the community.
"I'm proud to be making this announcement today, fulfilling our election commitments, with the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole, my federal colleague Pat Conaghan, and the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack," Mr Singh said.
"By introducing tunnels into the design, the road was able to be lowered which will result in a better visual outlook, and will reduce the height of the bypass between Shephards Lane and Gately's Road.
"Once complete, the bypass will remove thousands of vehicles from the centre of town, making Coffs an even better place to live, work, and visit."
The Roads and Maritime Services project team will hold a number of community information events on the revised EIS, with the project display office open throughout its exhibition period. A website portal and innovative noise tool has been developed for the project and will launch to coincide with the display of the EIS on September 11.
Submissions are invited on the EIS by Sunday October 27 and should be sent to the NSW Department of Planning Infrastructure and Environment.
Early construction work is expected to start in 2020, with the project expected to take about four to five years to complete.
To find out more about the project and how to make a submission on the project's EIS and see visuals of the project, visit pacifichighway.nsw.gov.au/coffsharbourbypass.