THE upgrade to the Great Western Highway at Kelso was officially opened on Tuesday after construction came to an end three months ahead of schedule.
The project was initially slated to cost $85 million, but ended up coming in at $104 million after issues arose during construction.
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, visited the city to open the highway.
“It’s been a major job, come in early, but because a lot of utility work that unexpectedly had to be done because the utilities weren’t at locations where they originally were on the maps, it has cost us a bit more, but it’s a great project,” she said.
The upgrade has doubled the capacity of a 2.8 kilometre section of the highway, helping to reduce congestion and improve freight movements.
Landscaping was also carried out with the assistance of Greening Bathurst.
Workers removed 138 trees to make way for the new road, but more than 600 trees will replace these, along with 4000 shrubs and 8000 groundcover plants.
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole said the project has been a long time coming.
"For 20 years, this is a project that was actually spoken about but never to be able to be delivered," he said.
"I'm pleased that $104 million has been able to complete the project. Not only is it two lanes going in and out of Bathurst, but also significant plantations have occurred."
Towards the end of the project questions were raised over the closure of the Lee Street diversion.
Mr Toole said the diversion was only ever meant to be temporary, but the issue would be looked into further.
Ms Pavey, however, said the government was bound by tough legislation and it was unlikely Lee Street would be reopened due to safety concerns and related costs, which was around $50,000 a month while it was open.
"We had to open it for the roadworks and we've done that and people have got used to it, but I've got to say honestly, the cost of all the other remediation works to make that safe will not be enough of a benefit. We've had a look and my advice is we really can't reopen that without the appropriate safeguards and we do not have a budget for that at this time,” she said.