Coffs Harbour Bypass: one Big Banana

Mar 28, 2024 3min read

Major infrastructure projects are occurring in waves across the country, seeing the demand for skilled tradies, truck drivers and their heavy vehicles increasing. These projects include everything from hospitals to rail tunnels and some of the most important road projects seen since the turn of the century.

Driving Australia’s east coast from Melbourne all the way through to Brisbane and beyond is something many Australians will do in their lifetime. Whether it be for a holiday or sitting at the wheel of a truck, the 2,400-kilometre stretch of the Hume and Pacific Highways is arguably one the most important parts of the national network.

Two key projects in New South Wales are the final pieces that will complete a run that will avoid traffic lights and intersections on the entire journey. These are around Hexham and Raymond Terrace north of Newcastle and Coffs Harbour 360 kilometres further along the route.

First to be done is the 14-kilometre Coffs Harbour section, which will take traffic around some of the famous banana plantations and scattered houses that sit among the relatively steep hills and gullies.

Artist's impression of the Shepards Lane Tunnel curtesy of Transport NSW

Benefits to Coffs Harbour

The $2.2 billion bypass, a joint-funded project from the Australian and NSW governments, is the biggest single infrastructure project in the history of Coffs Harbour. When complete, it will divert 12,000 vehicles away from Coffs Harbour city and save motorists around 12 minutes off their trip.

It will remove transiting vehicles from the city centre, reduce noise, improve safety and save transport companies time, fuel and in the process, considerable money.

Artist's impression of the Korora Hill Interchange curtesy of Transport NSW

Construction challenge

Like many projects, it is the more difficult ones that are left to last, and this project is no exception.

There are only a few locations on the east coast where the Great Dividing Range meets the Pacific Ocean, and Coffs Harbour is one of these. With the landform and the subtropical climate, one of the biggest challenges will be earthworks and managing wet weather impacts during construction.

Work is well underway, with all property acquisitions and most of the service relocation and associated early work complete, meaning the joint venture partners who will carry out most of the major work have a clear run to go ahead with construction.

Building of the site offices is complete, critical staff and contractors have been engaged and work on some of the cuttings are set to begin. The next phase will include work on three tunnels later in the year.

The project will include 15 bridges that include under-and overpasses plus four major interchanges to ensure the bypass is also a key traffic route for locals.

Fauna connectivity structures to enable animals to travel over and under the bypass; and noise mounds and walls including 14 kilometres of low-noise pavement.

Artist's impression of Englands Road Interchange curtesy of Transport NSW

The Road Ahead

With freeway connections already in place on both ends, traffic staging will be a challenge to ensure local and travelling road users have minimal delays.

There is just about every combination of construction scenario to develop and deliver within the scope of the project from complex bridges, hard rock drills and blast tunnels, and millions of cubic metres of earth to move.

The bypass is due to be open to traffic at the end of 2026, with all work completed by the end of 2027.


Do you know your load limitations? If you’re on the road regularly then check out this blog about the Do’s and Don’ts of Load Safety.

Playtime’s over, get $3,500* to spend on extras.

If you’re ready to get serious about tackling bigger jobs, grab yourself an NLR 45-150 AMT SWB Traypack from the Ready-to-Work range for $62,990 drive away*. And to prove we aren’t playing, buy any NLR Traypack before June 30 and you’ll get $3,500* to spend on genuine accessories or an Essentials service agreement.

Learn more


Stay up to date with the latest on Isuzu and dealerships near you.