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Construction underway on Hexham Straight as drilling begins on M1 extension

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It’s been a bugbear of every Hunter motorist for more years than anyone can care to remember.

But, with new federal and state governments in power, work has now begun on the “congestion-busting” Hexham Straight project.

It will also ensure the 15-kilometre M1 Pacific Motorway extension to Raymond Terrace progresses to geotechnical drilling ahead of major construction later this year.

The news is certain to be welcomed by locals and visitors alike, who have borne the brunt of bottlenecks and traffic jams for decades.

Hexham Straight currently during peak times.

With any luck, Hexham Straight will open in 2026 while the M1 Pacific Motorway extension to Raymond Terrace remains on track for 2028.

The combined project cost is $2.1 billion, with the Australian Government contributing $1.68 billion and the NSW Government chipping in $420 million.

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson, who’s long advocated for the enhancement, was thrilled with the latest development.

“The delivery of this [election] commitment on the Hexham Straight widening will improve the flow for 50,000 motorists every day,” she said.

“It’ll also provide a generational boost in employment across Newcastle, Port Stephens and the wider Hunter.

“This project will improve transport efficiencies, provide about 750 secure jobs over its life cycle.

“So, the start of construction will be hailed by every local.”

Federal Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King said they were determined to deliver the safe and efficient road network people in the Hunter and beyond needed and deserved.

“The Hexham Straight and M1 Pacific Motorway extension to Raymond Terrace will be major infrastructure links of national significance,” she stated.

“Extending the M1 will deliver improved traffic flow and increased connectivity, while catering to strong population growth in the region.” 

It’s a sentiment shared by NSW Roads Minister John Graham.

“The Hexham Straight widening will transform travel around the Hunter by improving the connection between Newcastle and the New England Highway, M1 Motorway and the Pacific Highway,” he said.

“The project, which will transform a six-kilometre section from two lanes to three in each direction, also has the potential to provide an economic boost in key employment areas around Greater Newcastle and the Port of Newcastle.

“So, it’s a very welcome milestone to see construction underway [today].

“Add to that, 1,050 jobs during the estimated five years it will take to complete the M1 Motorway extension to Raymond Terrace and we are excited to see this economic boost for the Hunter beginning to happen.”

NSW Regional Transport and Roads Minister Jenny Aitchison admitted the “missing link” would remove up to 25,000 vehicles a day from existing local roads.

“It is great to see work on the 15-kilometre extension has progressed to geotechnical drilling ahead of the start of major construction,” the Maitland MP said.

“The Aboriginal heritage salvage is complete.

“Now, the geotechnical investigations are underway, with more than 100 boreholes to be drilled to determine soil conditions, and location of underground services like water and electricity.”

Hunter MP Dan Repacholi agreed.

“I know locals who frequently travel this section of road are very much looking forward to this extension, making for a safer and faster journey,” he added.

“This 15-kilometre extension from Black Hill to Raymond Terrace will be a boost for the region and will mean no more bumper-to-bumper traffic queues for mums and dads taking the kids on a holiday road trip.”

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