In May the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) released the final Newell Highway Corridor Report after a final round of community consultation (through submissions). The report (pdf 37.3MB) goes into great detail about why the Newell is being focused on and the steps and priority work is being given. The report holds more information about proposed changes to traffic conditions local to Coonabarabran than the bypass. An example is the current situation where the larger volume of heavy traffic travelling south that uses the Newell having to come to a complete stop at the Oxley Hwy turn off it identified as an area where traffic flow priority should be changed.
The report divides all work to be done into priorities over a 20 year period. The Coonabarabran bypass is marked as a medium term priority, so work probably not even starting within the next 2 years. Lots of time for the town to prepare for the changes that may be coming.
While the route for the bypass was identified some years ago, design work on the route had not been completed when the project was put on hold. The report says that the design work is part of what is classed as medium priority and interestingly the final word on work to be done says “Remove heavy vehicle through traffic from the main urban commercial centre at Coonabarabran. This may include a bypass.” That appears to leave the door open for other solutions.
Surprisingly for all the loud protests from some individuals on social media against the bypass only one resident submitted something to the community consultation report, and that was in favour of the bypass.