Our by-pass could have tunnels and visionary bridges – all close to the current budget

Editors note: Bravo to Craig and Rod for offering an alternative vision that is closely budgeted to what is currently being proposed but which in my opinion is vastly superior.

Perhaps the State and Federal governments could interact with this suggestion in a positive way and hopefully not dismiss it out of hand.

Also a big bravo to the Coffs City Council for voting to pursue the inclusion of tunnels as opposed to ugly valleys and escarpments at their meeting last Thursday.  Perhaps they might want to help support Craig and Rod on this one too?

The following is by Craig Murray (BE Civil – Hons) and Rod McKelvey (MAICD)

Potential viaduct option – artist’s impression

 The Great Escarpment is part of the Great Dividing Range and forms one of the largest living landscapes on Earth, extending for over 3600km from Victoria to Cape York. It represents a dramatic physical expression of the 180-million-year old episode that saw the separation of the supercontinent of Gondwana and the emergence of the modern continent of Australia.

Coffs Harbour is where this massive, rugged landform kisses the coast, which makes the development of the Coffs Harbour Bypass so challenging and complex, but also exciting.

The current proposed concept doesn’t do justice to this ancient and historic landform, nor does it respect the tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal cultural history.

Why not acknowledge the significance of the Great Escarpment and Aboriginal cultural history by creating something breathtaking, something that will attract tourists, something to make Coffs Harbour proud? Why just build a road when you can build a tourist attraction?

The natural beauty of The Great Ocean Road in Victoria and the graceful Sea Cliff Bridge in the Illawarra region of NSW are attractions in their own right, so why not do something similar here for the Coffs Bypass?

Sea Cliff Bridge, Stanwell Park, NSW

 Imagine a different approach to the design, composed of a series of bridge viaducts over valleys and farms, with three tunnels through the ridgelines as it makes its way around our green escarpment amphitheatre, whilst carefully protecting and preserving much of the environment along the current concept route.

We have considered an alternate design which incorporates the three tunnels (Roberts Hill, Shephards Lane, and Gatelys Road) and longer bridge viaducts. Our estimate for this alternative is $1.39 billion, which is comparable to the current concept design estimate of $1.17 to $1.30 billion.

Current concept design – artist’s impression

Alternate concept design – artist’s impression

The tunnels could be constructed the same as the St Helena tunnel inland from Byron Bay.

St Helena Tunnel, McLeods Shoot, NSW

This alternate design has longer bridge viaducts, less open cut, bare rock and fewer valley fills.

Toowoomba Bypass – an example of a bridge viaduct that can pass over valleys and farms

Toowoomba Bypass, Qld – an example of open cut we don’t want in Coffs Harbour

Location unknown – an example of valley fills we don’t want

Location unknown – another example of a bridge viaduct that can pass over valleys and farms

Bridges like the Sea Cliff Bridge and the Toowoomba Bypass viaduct have already been constructed elsewhere, so why not create something breathtaking here in Coffs Harbour?

And why not celebrate the completion of this challenging and complex, bi-partisan infrastructure investment by giving it a unique name that respects thousands of years of Aboriginal cultural history?

We have spoken with members of the Aboriginal community, who have indicated the incorporation of Aboriginal names, like Giinagay Way given to the Warrell Creek to Urunga upgrade section of the Old Pacific Highway, is an important step in recognising the history of the Coffs Harbour area, and they are keen to seek the community’s views on naming the Bypass, if it’s done in a way that respects their culture.

Let’s work for a better design along the current route and create a signature landmark for Coffs Harbour.


Craig Murray, BE (Civil) Hons. GDPA

21A Fawcett Street Woolgoolga NSW 2456

e: [email protected]

p: +61 456 796 422


Rod McKelvey MAICD

10 Ellem Close Arrawarra NSW 2456

e: [email protected]

p: +61 429 457 138 


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