LAST TIME: Long traffic queues at Bulahdelah during the holiday seasons have been part of the trip north for many years.A FINAL farewell from Bulahdelah’s notorious highway bottleneck will give motorists an unwelcome Christmas present, with lower speed limits set to apply during the holidays.
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NSW Roads and Maritime Services has confirmed roadwork speed limits will be enforced through the area between December 23 and January 3, despite workers downing tools, shaving 30km/h off drivers’ speedometers.
The slowdown has prompted one Bulahdelah business owner to predict the worst bottleneck in the town’s history, potentially adding hours to drivers’ trips.
Peacehaven Country Cottages owner Nita Eadie said she believed this year could be the worst yet for commuters travelling through the town.
‘‘This year, I think, will be the worst ever because of those roadworks,’’ Ms Eadie said. ‘‘It’s not giving people a good experience [with Bulahdelah] but at least this will be the last year.’’
A spokesman for Roads and Maritime Services confirmed the 80km/h limits would be enforced, as motorists heading north would use a completed section of divided road through the 8.6kilometre stretch.
‘‘Roadwork speed limits will remain during the holiday period, even when no work is being carried out,’’ the spokesman said. ‘‘This is to improve road safety and reflects the fact motorists are travelling through an unfamiliar road layout.’’
Bulahdelah service station co-owner Terry Stellema said she believed the slowdown was necessary this year, citing recent accidents in the area.
‘‘Even though people hate it, it does flow better, ’’ Mrs Stellema said.
She expected the slowdown to have a minimal impact on business in the town’s busy trading period.
‘‘By that time [after driving for a while] the kids are hungry and thirsty, and they stop,’’ Mrs Stellema said.
Lengthy waits and queues have formed a regular part of the holiday period for northbound travellers for years, with queues during April’s Easter long weekend this year extending more than 10kilometres at some points.
An NRMA spokesman said the motoring body was urging drivers to adhere to the speed limits, but pushed for signage to ensure the speed conditions were made clear.
Roads and Maritime Services will also enforce several other interim measures in the area, including left turns only from Stroud Road, the town’s main business strip, onto the highway.
Estimated travel times and updates will be displayed and traffic controllers and emergency crews will be on site.