‘Julia should open final bypass link’

GREATER Hume Council hopes the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will open the Holbrook bypass, expected to be finished by June 30.

With no exact completion date, no ceremony has been arranged to mark the final link in duplicating the 880 kilometres Hume Highway from Sydney and Melbourne.

Greater Hume Mayor Heather Wilton yesterday said there might well be two celebrations — the formal opening for dignitaries in May or June and a large celebration in warmer spring weather.

If there are two events, the second could be similar to the exuberant carnival atmosphere created for former Prime Minister John Howard to open the Albury-Wodonga bypass on March 4, 2007.

About 20,000 people walked or rode at least part of the route between Albury and Wodonga before Mr Howard and thenVictorian premier Steve Bracks and other VIPs cut the ribbon on the Spirit of Progress bridge.

The federal government requires NSW Roads and Maritime Services and lead contractor Abigroup to finish the Holbrook road by June 30 at the latest.

Greater Hume general manager Steven Pinnuck said the council was talking to RMS about possible events but nothing could be decided with no completion date.

“Opening the bypass will be of national significance and we think it merits the presence of the Prime Minister,” Mr Pinnuck said.

Cr Wilton agreed.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese opened the $265 million Woomargama bypass on November 7, 2011, after 1500 men and women had worked on the project in hill country west of the village.

The $290 million Tarcutta bypass was opened a few days later.

Work on the $245 million Holbrook bypass began in May, 2011 under the direction of RMS engineer Tony Dobbin.

NSW is contributing $27 million of the cost, with some funds going towards refurbishing the “old” highway through Holbrook before it is handed to council control.

Julia Gillard.

Julia Gillard.