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$15m puts Thornton rail bridge duplication back on track

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After more than a decade of inaction, the eagerly-awaited Thornton Rail Bridge Duplication project is back on track.

NSW Premier Chris Minns revealed during a visit to the region on Friday (1 September) that the NSW Government would deliver on its funding commitment by investing $15 million to kick-start the next stage of the venture.

The money will go towards initial works and planning to improve the stretch of road, which is often a motorist’s nightmare.

NSW Regional and Western NSW Minister Tara Moriarty, NSW Premier Chris Minns and Maitland MP and NSW Regional Transport and Roads Minister Jenny Aitchison. Photo: Rod Thompson

The timing of the announcement could not be any better.

Over the next 20 years, it’s expected the Maitland LGA will experience an increase of nearly 7,000 residents and 3,500 jobs, making it the fastest-growing regional city in NSW.

“We’re determined to end the previous government’s legacy of letting regional infrastructure fall behind while prioritising toll roads in Sydney,” Mr Minns said.

“So, it’s time to finally get the wheels turning on this much-needed project.

“When delivered, it’ll ease congestion and expand access to Thornton Road, which offers a flood-free route for local residents during natural disasters.

“Thornton and the surrounding areas are key to the Maitland region’s success.

“So, we must invest in key infrastructure projects to support a growing area of regional significance. 

“We need to start work now to ensure traffic flows smoothly.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns during his visit to the Hunter on Friday. Photo: Rod Thompson

The NSW Government will begin consultation with community members and key stakeholders over some issues including tie-in points to the north and the south of the bridge, construction over an operational rail line, utility and property impacts.

The duplication project originally started under Labor in 2009.

And, while the Liberal-Nationals vowed it would be delivered, it failed to eventuate.

“Unfortunately, the former government removed the cap on development north of the bridge, allowing more homes to be built in the Thornton and Chisholm without committing more funding to regional infrastructure,” Mr Minns said.

“We’re unwavering in our bid to end the failed promises of past governments.”

Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison welcomed the news.

“This is the culmination of the hard work we’ve done to ensure Thornton residents will enjoy smooth and safe travel in future,” the NSW Regional Transport and Roads Minister said.

“The rail bridge duplication is just one of the many vital road projects the former government failed to complete in 12 years.

NSW Premier Chris Minns addresses the media at Thornton. Photo: Rod Thompson

“The precinct is so congested during peak periods and flooding that it may as well double as a bumper-to-bumper car park sometimes.

“Moving ahead, this will be a game-changer for essential workers who are constantly stuck in traffic and spending hours in the car to get to work, education and medical appointments.

“As one of the flood-free routes connecting the northern parts of Maitland to the M1, Pacific Highway and the Hunter Expressway, the duplication of this bridge is vital for our community.”

NSW Regional and Western NSW Minister Tara Moriarty agreed.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen people flock from the cities to our regions,” she said.

“So, with this trend ongoing, it’s important that we invest in projects like this that support connectivity across regional and rural NSW.

“The NSW Government will continue to invest in projects just like the Thornton Rail Bridge Duplication to ensure that as our regions continue to grow, they have the infrastructure they need to thrive and stay connected.”

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