Kiama MP Gareth Ward has lauded the near completion of the Berry Bypass a resounding success on Friday.
Mr Ward and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock met with media in Berry to celebrate the end of the project a bit prematurely.
The traffic cones, workers and 80km/hour speed zones were still in place.
The MPs assured the South Coast Register there were just a few line-marking jobs to be done before all four lanes are open, and an 100km/hour zone is implemented.
“The opening of the Berry bypass in July this year has seen fewer heavy vehicles and traffic travelling through the main street of Berry and has already significantly improved the safety of pedestrians and tourists in the town’s CBD,” Mr Ward said.
“After almost three years of work, today the community including visitors will be able to save around seven minutes in travel time when driving on the new bypass.”
Meanwhile, a partner in a Berry business has noticed a downturn in trade since the bypass was opened.
“The bypass is fabulous and Fulton Hogan has done a fantastic job,” Little Rae business partner Louise Riles said.
“We are frustrated with local representatives, council and state level, happy to jump on bandwagon and say yay it’s opening a year in advance, but only give the businesses six weeks’ notice.”
Louise and her business partner, Rebecca, have applied for a liquor licence and a development application – both can take up to six months to process – something they had hoped to do before the bypass was open.
They believe the lack of signage, and confusing signage on the way in and out of town has prevented some customers from stopping in.
Louise said other business owners had expressed similar sentiments.
Mr Ward said he was willing to work out a solution that suits the business community.
“When you have a new project like this people take a little while to get used to it,” he said.
“We’ll listen to the community’s needs and if we need to make adjustments, as we do on any existing road, we’ll be happy to do that.”