Fulton Hogan, the company building stage one of the Princes Highway upgrade, has received the nod for stage two.
Stage two, which is the Foxground and Berry bypass, will be 11.6 kilometres long, with two lanes in each direction and median separation between Toolijooa Road and Schofields Lane.
It also includes two bypasses, one off the winding highway at Foxground and a second off Berry with access ramps into the town.
‘‘We’re now a very important step closer to seeing this project become a reality,’’ Kiama MP Gareth Ward said.
‘‘One of the reasons I stood for parliament was that I wanted to fix the Princes Highway.
‘‘Having attended funerals of people who have lost their lives on this very section of road, I’m so pleased as someone who's lived in the area my entire life to see that this project is now going to be going from lines on a map to reality.’’
Mr Ward said negotiations with Fulton Hogan will continue with a view to a contract being signed by the middle of the year.
Construction work could then begin before the end of 2014.
Work on stage one has led to a long stretch of the existing highway becoming a 60km/h zone. With work on the two stages expected to overlap for the first six months of 2015, there have been concerns that the 60km/h zone would be extended as far south as Berry.
In the areas where construction will bypass the existing highway, the speed limits will be unchanged.
Mr Ward said it was envisaged that the stage two works would begin in the bypass areas to limit the effect on motorists.
‘‘The work that will be started initially won’t be right at the end of Toolijooa,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m happy about that and I argued about that because the fewer interruptions we can have on the highway the better.
‘‘Locals have had to put up with a lot of road works, but people do understand short-term pain for long-term gain.’’
Mr Ward said Fulton Hogan were not granted the contract for the second stage of the contract because they were already building stage one.
But he said it would have benefits for the company.
‘‘They know the area well, they’re doing a fantastic job at Gerringong and hopefully they can move some of the equipment and staff that are on the existing project to the next one,’’ Mr Ward said.
‘‘There’s a lot of staff on this project that have bought properties in the area so the fact that they've been awarded the second stage means that those families can continue to stay in the area, spending money in local businesses, sending their kids to local schools and making a real contribution to the local economy.’’