A DAY more than 40 years in the making came to a historic, if considerably understated, conclusion on Thursday.
The Bega Bypass was officially opened with several congratulatory speeches and the unveiling of a plaque.
In attendance were Bega Valley Shire Mayor Bill Taylor, Member for Bega Andrew Constance, Member for Eden-Monaro Peter Hendy, several representatives from Roads and Maritime Services and project contractors.
There were also a few special invited guests such as Mal Barnes from the Bega Chamber of Commerce, Aunty Faith Aldridge and Russell Cook from the Bega Aboriginal Land Council and two former bypass surveyors/designers who first made inroads on the project over four decades ago.
However, with no prior notification the event was taking place to either the public or the media – until the BDN began making harried inquiries on Wednesday night – it was left to the official party – and a few supporters of former federal member Mike Kelly holding placards – to welcome the new addition to the Princes Hwy.
Dr Kelly’s efforts as the previous member were acknowledged by all three speakers – Cr Taylor, Mr Constance and Dr Hendy – with the bypass a $55million fully federally funded project that came to fruition during his term in office.
Cr Taylor also thanked the “many people instrumental in getting the job done” and said it was pleasing to see the effect the bypass was already having on the town.
“It has returned Carp St to the people,” he said.
Mr Constance praised the Bega business community who, despite having mixed views early on about what a bypass would do, backed the project.
“This is a terrific result, achieved quickly,” he said.
“This does a lot to alleviate pressure in town…and now Bega can look at better ways to improve the streetscape.
“It would be remiss of me not to recognise Mike Kelly’s contribution,” Mr Constance added, going on to say that having the bypass federally funded allowed the State Government’s earlier funding commitment to be saved and put towards projects such as the intersection at Jigamy Farm and the Dignams Creek upgrade.
Dr Hendy said he was “pleased to be able to open a road that essentially has been open for a few months already”.
“The project has been completed ahead of schedule and come in $5million under budget.
“The much-anticipated bypass will result in reduced travel times and congestion for motorists on the Princes Hwy.
“It will cut congestion in Bega’s centre by 45 per cent, improving safety and amenity for locals.”