Blasting begins on Coffs Harbour bypass
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Blasting begins on Coffs Harbour bypass

Jul 31, 2023

BLASTS from the past week in West Korora are a sure-fire sign that Coffs Harbour Bypass works are breaking through the hard stuff.

With the first detonators going off at 2:15pm on Thursday 17 August at Cut 16, between Bruxner Park and West Korora roads, it was a start to the blasting that will continue twice weekly for the next year.

Speaking to News Of The Area just before the first blast went off, the Chief Shot Firer, Geof Chilcott from Ron Southon Drilling and Blasting, Alstonville, said, “We have 15,000 cubic metres of rock to blow up today.

“There are 17 hills on this project, and this one at Cut 16 is the biggest.

“It will take around four seconds to go off,” he said.

Geof is an old hand at blasting, now in his 30th year on the job and “doing 200 blasts a year around here”, he said, gesturing his arm wide to take in the whole of the Coffs Coast region.

Daniel Perez, the Ferrovial Gamuda Joint Venture Project Director, was also on site for the milestone.

“The first blast is always exciting to see,” he told NOTA.

“The bypass project is progressing very well, and the community is interacting with us through our community feedback sessions which is good.”

The dry weather has been a boon to construction making efficient headway.

Transport for NSW Project Director for the Coffs Harbour Bypass, Greg Nash said the clement conditions had enabled clearing to get underway.

“We’ll have the corridor cleared by the end of this month (August).

“The earth works are already ahead of plan.

“The blast we’ve just seen is a great example of a production blast going forward.

“Now we can get the data from that blast to apply it to the future blasts at different locations across the site.”

Transport for NSW Regional Director North, Anna Zycki said parts of the bypass alignment contained very hard rock that could not be easily excavated using mechanical techniques like hammering, hence the need for blasting.

“After significant planning and preparation, we did a trial blast on 26 July that went well, and it was great to see this first blast go off as expected,” she said.

“We need to move about two million cubic metres of rock to build the bypass and using blasting to break rock in some locations will be of great assistance.”

This blasting involved drilling blast holes over seven days, placing explosives in the holes according to a set pattern and depth, implementing safety measures across an exclusion zone and then detonating the blast.

“After breaking the rock, it is crushed and loaded into large trucks to be used on the project,” said Anna.

“Rock removed from the blast sites will be used to build up or ‘fill’ parts of the road that run through lower-lying areas and for processing to use as pavement material.”

Ongoing controlled blasting for cuts will be carried out between 9am and 5pm weekdays and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays and is expected to take about a year to complete.

Blasting for tunnels will start later in the year.

A surface mining machine will also be trialled in some locations.

The surface miner breaks and crushes rock in a single operation for improved efficiency.

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh told NOTA, “It’s good to see progress on the bypass.

“From the plan on paper people can now start to see the project take shape.

“It’s always exciting to see significant work in progress and a blast like this is unusual to see in Coffs Harbour.

“It was quite thrilling to watch,” he said.


BLASTS from the past week in West Korora are a sure-fire sign that Coffs Harbour Bypass works are breaking through the hard stuff.