Kiama MP Gareth Ward has lauded the near completion of the Berry Bypass a resounding success on Friday.
Mr Ward and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock met with media Berry to celebrate the end of the project a bit prematurely.
The traffic cones, workers and 80km/hour speed zones were still in place.
They assured the community there were just a few line-marking jobs to be done before all four lanes were open, and an 100km/hour zone implemented.
“The opening of the Berry bypass in July this year has seen fewer heavy vehicles and traffic travelling through the main street of Berry and has already significantly improved the safety of pedestrians and tourists in the town’s CBD,” Mr Ward said.
“After almost three years of work, today the community including visitors will be able to save around seven minutes in travel time when driving on the new bypass.”
Meanwhile, a partner in a Berry business has noticed a downturn in trade since the bypass was opened.
“The bypass is fabulous and Fulton Hogan has done a fantastic job,” Little Rae business partner Louise Riles said.
“We are frustrated with local representatives, council and state level, happy to jump on bandwagon and say ‘yay it’s opening a year in advance’, but only give the businesses six weeks’ notice.”
Ms Riles and her business partner have applied for a liquor licence and a development application – both can take up to six months to process – something they had hoped to do before the bypass was open.
They believe confusing signage on the way in and out of town has prevented some customers from stopping in.
Ms Riles said other business owners had expressed similar sentiments.
Mr Ward said they were willing to work out a solution that suits the business community.
“When you have a new project like this people take a little while to get used to it,” he said.