Section: Coopernook

Looking south towards the Lansdowne River bridge on Old Pacific Highway at Coopernook. Aug 2004.

Until March 2006, the Pacific Highway passed through the village of Coopernook. The highway had previously entered Coopernook from the south on a narrow, two-lane steel truss bridge over the Lansdowne River which was constructed in 1933. This bridge had replaced a one-lane timber structure built by the Department of Public Works in 1892, located just to the east of the existing bridge at the southern end of Wharf Street . Further north, the highway has previously been realigned around the small township of Coopernook, along Fitzroy Street, usurping the former route of Macquarie Street through the centre of town. This deviation of the highway was constructed in 1956-57.

As part of the broader Pacific Highway Upgrading Programme, another bypass of Coopernook was mooted as well as the replacement of the bridge over the Lansdowne River. Construction of the $44 million, state-funded Coopernook Bypass was commenced in February 2002 but it was necessary for work to be postponed for twelve months to allow the road formation to settle on the soft-soil floodplain. Work recommenced in February 2004 and was completed in March 2006. The official opening of the bypass (traffic switch) occurred on 22 March 2006.

Staggered T-junctions are currently provided at Harrington Road rather than a grade-separated interchange despite heated protests from locals who fear accidents with traffic entering the high-speed highway at low speeds. The Roads and Traffic Authority has maintained that there is insufficient traffic to warrant a flyover at this stage, however the intersections have been set-up to accommodate a future flyover. From the RTA's Pacific Highway General Manager, Bob Higgins:

“If you go and have a look there what you’ll find is the intersections are set up for a future flyover but when we looked at this we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not warranted at this stage.What’s been built there is a very safe intersection, there’s good visibility from both directions, there’s lighting, the actual channelisation, everything’s been laid out in terms of the connection, but what you’ll see there as well is where we’ve done some preparatory work we’re using for a future flyover there.” - [Accessed: 30 May 2006]

The narrow steel truss bridge over the Lansdowne River that had previously formed the Pacific Highway's southern entrance into Coopernook is unfortunately set to be demolished. There had been calls from the Coopernook community to retain the bridge as a means of local connectivity and as a heritage item - it has a rare type of lift span. However, the decision has been made to demolish the bridge, citing restoration costs and the need for higher shipping clearance along the Lansdowne River. From the RTA's Pacific Highway General Manager, Bob Higgins:

“The difficulty we’ve got with the Coopernook Bridge is that the lift span on that has been frozen for many many years and the cost of restoration is very very expensive. One of the things we had to do as part of this project is to improve height clearance so you’ll notice that when you look at the Lansdowne River bridges where we’re providing a clearance of five metres. We did investigate this but we came to the conclusion that with that existing bridge we do need to go through a process of demolition of it to maintain this new waterway clearance up the Lansdowne River.”
- [Accessed: 30 May 2006]

The former route of Pacific Highway through the town of Coopernook is yet to be renamed, however part of the route is known locally as Fitzroy Street - from prior to the original Coopernook Deviation's construction.

Photos of the Pacific Highway (Coopernook Bypass)
Southbound on the Coopernook Bypass approaching the Harrington Rd & Coopernook Rd staggered junctions. May 2006. (Lachlan Sims)
Looking south to the Harrington Rd & Coopernook Rd junctions. Coopernook Rd was formerly part of Harrington Rd, but was renamed when the bypass was completed as it now connects the Pacific Hwy with Coopernook. May 2006. (Lachlan Sims)
Looking south to Harrington Rd, showing an ID sign for Harrington & Crowdy Head. May 2006. (Lachlan Sims)
Looking south to Coopernook Rd, showing an ID sign for Coopernook & Lansdowne. May 2006. (Lachlan Sims)
Looking south to the twin bridges over the Lansdowne River at Coopernook. The distance sign reads Taree 19km, Forster 55km, Newcastle 190km and Sydney 339km. May 2006. (Lachlan Sims)
Photos of the former alignments of Pacific Highway at Coopernook
Looking north at the southern end of the Coopernook Bypass, showing construction progress to August 2004. The bypass will shorten the route of the highway by about 1km and eliminate the extremely narrow bridge over the Lansdowne River. Aug 2004.
Looking south between the southern end of the Coopernook Bypass and the Lansdowne River. Note the deteriorating pavement and lack of shoulders (the gravel on the wide of the road in the foreground is a pull-over bay less than 20m long). Nov 2005.
Looking north approaching the bridge over the Lansdowne River. The bridge is too narrow to allow two heavy vehicles to pass at the same time and thus truckies call ahead to ensure only one of them crosses the bridge at the one time. Sometimes trucks have no choice but to stop in the middle of the road - hence the "possible queuing" signs. Nov 2005.
The bridge over the Lansdowne River. Note the unusual opening span - it is a single arm bascule opening span (similar to the Spit Bridge in Sydney) but with a large concrete block as a counterweight. (Thanks to Alex Csar for that tidbit of information!) Nov 2005.
Fingerboard signage at Harrington Rd. Nov 2005.
Late 1980s and 1990s style tourist signage southbound approaching the junction with Harrington Rd. Nov 2005.
Looking north along the original Coopernook deviation, constructed in 1957-58. Note the lack of shoulders and the development abutting the highway. Nov 2005.
Looking south along the original Coopernook deviation. Nov 2005.
Looking south along Macquarie Street (Pacific Hwy from 1928 to 1958) through Coopernook. A new coat of seal had just been applied at the time of photography. Nov 2005.
Another view looking south along Macquarie Street in Coopernook. Nov 2005.
Looking south at the northern end of the original Coopernook deviation. The road branching off to the right is Macquarie Street, which was the original route of the highway (from 1928 to 1958). Aug 2004.
Looking south at the northern extremity of the Coopernook Bypass, just south of Two Mile Creek. Nov 2005.

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