The Government of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia has opened the final road section between Woolgoolga and Ballina, marking the completion of the A$15bn ($11.3bn) Pacific Highway upgrade project.

The project has seen the creation of a 657km dual carriageway between Newcastle and Queensland.

Communities along NSW’s North Coast came together at New Italy to celebrate the completion of the Pacific Highway upgrade.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “We set the goal to deliver this A$15bn ($11.3bn) project by the end of 2020 and despite the challenges we’ve faced along the way such as bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve delivered.

“Across New South Wales, we will be getting people home sooner and safer for generations to come thanks to this generation-defining infrastructure project.”

The upgrade work began in 1996 and was jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments for more than 20 years.

During the project lifespan, more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs were created.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said: “Not that long ago, the Pacific Highway was known as a goat track, but now it’s 657km of dual-carriageway highway, which will support tourism, unlock new opportunities for regional economies and drive higher productivity for freight.

“Many people have fought passionately to bring this project to life over many years and today their vision of a four-lane highway is finally a reality.”

Last month, the Government of New South Wales (NSW) announced the completion of the Gunnedah heavy vehicle bypass project.

The project upgraded a 1.8km stretch of Bloomfield Street to support B-doubles and other higher mass limit vehicles.