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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Hunter motorists welcome bypass plans

Hunter motorists will welcome this week’s news that the Singleton and Muswellbrook bypasses finally look set to become a reality.

Each day thousands of road users from Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Cessnock and surrounding areas converge on the Hunter Expressway and New England Highway for work further up the valley.

It is believed construction on the Singleton Bypass is on track to start in 2023, with funding committed to finalise planning and deliver the project.

The proposed route will bypass five sets of traffic lights and remove about 15,000 vehicles per day from the town centre.

Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen said the bypass would involve building a new section of highway across the floodplain west of Singleton, from near Newington Lane to north of McDougalls Hill.

“With 26,000 vehicles, including more than 3700 trucks, currently using the Singleton town centre each day, the planned bypass will reduce travel times, ease congestion and improve safety for everyone along this key corridor,” he explained.

“I know how much this project means to locals, which is why I’ve been pushing to get the job done.

“So, I’m glad we’ve now received the funding required to finalise planning for the Singleton Bypass.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack, who visited the region on Monday and Tuesday, said the Australian Government committed $560 million to the project in the 2020-21 Budget last month as part of its record investment in transport infrastructure.

“This project is great news for Singleton, great news for the Hunter and markets to the north-west,” he added.

“It’s going to reduce congestion significantly.

“As well, the bypass project is expected to support more than 1370 jobs and we will draw on local businesses and contractors because we know how important it is to keep infrastructure and jobs in the regions as we lay the economic foundations for recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

c said the bypass was an important project for the town of Singleton.

“That’s why the NSW Government committed $92 million towards it last year,” he stated.

“With the Australian Government coming on board, I’m confident we can now get on and deliver the community the bypass they deserve.”

A Review of Environmental Factors (environmental impacts assessment) was released for consultation in late 2019 with the Submissions Report handed down in August 2020.

Transport for NSW is currently finalising the concept design based upon community feedback and will keep residents informed as the project progresses.

Planning for the Muswellbrook Bypass is powering ahead, too, following NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole’s (left) visit to the region this week.

Meanwhile, planning for the neighbouring Muswellbrook Bypass is powering ahead, too, with locals invited to have their say on the preferred option.

“We know how much this community wants a bypass that will give their roads back to residents and move trucks and other heavy freight out of town,” Mr Toole said.

“We have put out a preferred option for the bypass and we’re asking everyone to give their feedback so we can get the design right and start building.

“The New England Highway is a vital trade and tourism route for the Upper Hunter, with up to 20,000 vehicles passing through Muswellbrook each day, including about 2600 heavy vehicles, so this announcement is a great step forward.

“The project is not only important for delivering smoother, safer journeys for motorists, but it’s also expected to create 720 direct jobs and 1090 indirect jobs.”

Mr Johnsen said the community was eager to see the bypass become a reality.

“The New England Highway is a critical corridor of commerce – and this project will support the needs of the community now as well as future growth,” he continued.

“A route corridor for the bypass was announced in 2018 and we’ve since refined the alignment and connections with the existing highway.

“This provides about nine kilometres of new highway and full connections to Muswellbrook at both ends, with the location of the bypass south of Coal Road shifted east to reduce environmental impacts and to improve the road alignment.

“We’ve also built in the capacity for further changes when they’re needed, including a possible access at Coal Road.”

Feedback is now open on the preferred option for the design until Friday 18 December, before further consultation is carried out next year on a more advanced design and potential environmental impacts.

Comment may be provided to the project team by emailing [email protected] or by post to:

  • Muswellbrook bypass Project Team
  • Transport for NSW
  • Locked Bag 2030
  • Newcastle NSW 2300