Project need and objectives

The Coffs Harbour bypass project aligns with a number of Australian and NSW government policies and plans, including the NSW Government Premier’s Priorities, NSW State Infrastructure Strategy, Australian Government’s Regional Development Framework and NSW Government’s Future Transport 2056 Strategy.

The project will provide safer, more consistent and reliable travel, reduce travel times for all road users, improve transport efficiency, ease congestion and support economic development.

Features and benefits

The Coffs Harbour bypass is a key link in the National Land Transport Network and will also have region wide benefits such as:

  • Improve the amenity of the Coffs Harbour CBD by removing significant amounts of through traffic
  • Ease congestion by removing thousands of vehicles from the Coffs Harbour CBD
  • Improve safety for all road users along the existing Pacific Highway
  • Result in wider economic benefits for the Coffs Harbour area by making the CBD a more attractive place to visit, shop and work
  • Complement the existing transport network by providing an additional route for some local trips

Project objectives

The Coffs Harbour bypass project has been developed to complement the Pacific Highway upgrade program and meet the Australian and NSW government’s strategic planning for regional NSW.


Reduce travel times, ease congestion and improve road transport efficiency for all road users while making journeys safer by significantly reducing the accident risk.


Support the economic development of Coffs Harbour and the North Coast Region by making journeys quicker, safer and more reliable.

City shaping

The Coffs Harbour bypass will reduce traffic through the CBD, supporting opportunities for urban renewal and place making.

Why is the project needed?

Following the completion of NorthConnex by 2019 and the Pacific Highway duplication by 2020, Coffs Harbour and Hexham/Heatherbrae will be the only two locations on the entire east coast corridor linking Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne where the route is an urban road with traffic signals.

The existing highway through Coffs Harbour forms part of the Sydney - Brisbane freight corridor and carries between 30,000 and 35,000 vehicles per day (2016). Road users, including through and local traffic, pedestrians, cyclists and heavy vehicles, need to navigate a 12km low speed arterial road with 12 sets of traffic signals, a major roundabout and 26 other intersections. This means the area experiences:

  • A motorist, cyclist and pedestrian casualty rate more than three times higher than expected of a road of this class
  • Increased travel time and inefficient on-road freight operation
  • Loss of economic development opportunities
  • A decrease in the amenity of Coffs Harbour CBD.

Over the next 20 years, almost 77 per cent of population growth on the North Coast of NSW will be in regional cities, including Coffs Harbour (DP&E, 2017). The area is already experiencing high levels of congestion, and traffic volumes are expected to increase over time in line with population growth.

How would the project satisfy this need?

By providing a bypass of Coffs Harbour consistent with the current standards of the Pacific Highway upgrade program, the project would address declining transport efficiency, urban congestion and road safety issues caused by the interaction of through and local traffic.

It  will support regional development and provide:

  • Safer, more consistent and reliable travel
  • Reduced travel times with improved freight transport efficiency to better access towns and villages on the north coast
  • Improved amenity for local communities
  • A more reliable route with improved flood tolerance

About the project

The proposed Coffs Harbour bypass project will have major benefits for Coffs Harbour. Building or upgrading about 14 kilometers to four lane road will improve transport efficiency and road safety for local, regional and interstate road users. The project will save motorists 12 minutes travel time, bypass up to 12 sets of traffic lights and remove thousands of vehicles from the Coffs Harbour CBD.

The project is a priority for the Australian and NSW governments as the Pacific Highway is a major contributor to Australia's economy. The bypass will be a key link in this vital piece of the nation's infrastructure, connecting Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

The project’s objectives of improving road safety, delivering road freight efficiency for heavy vehicles and easing congestion all meet the government’s Future Transport Strategy 2056.

We are seeking approval to construct and operate the Coffs Harbour bypass from south of the Englands Road roundabout to the dual carriageway highway at Sapphire.

Project update

Next steps

With the successful tender of Ferrovial Gamuda Joint Venture, major construction will start about March 2023.  The bypass will be delivered using a single design and construct contract to ensure innovation, efficiency and value for money in the delivery of the project. The project includes the three tunnels at the major ridgelines, as per the environmental planning approval received in December 2020.

The bypass is expected to be open to traffic from late 2026 and fully completed in late 2027.