Traffic congestion continues to be one of the Hunter Valley’s biggest problems.
And, residents – as well as elected officials – want action sooner rather than later.
Earlier this month, Wallsend state MP Sonia Hornery moved a Notice of Motion in the NSW Parliament, calling on the health and transport ministers to do more for the staff and visitors to John Hunter Hospital (JHH), who remain trapped in a constant flow nightmare.
The issue arose after changes were made to the intersection at Jacaranda Drive and Lookout Road, last year, to allow vehicles to turn right.
But, those attending JHH remain stuck in gridlock on a regular basis and face a daily wait of more than an hour just to exit the facility.
“It’s got so bad the staff have started their own petition seeking modifications to the internal road network and the reinstatement of the shuttle bus from Hunter Stadium during peak hours,” Ms Hornery said.
Now, just a week later, Maitland City Liberal North Ward councillor Mitchell Griffin feels it’s the time for talks to begin in regards to a Thornton bypass.
Over the past eight years, traffic has been steadily increasing through the suburb with the progress of development in Thornton North and Chisholm.
It’s also resulted in daily bottlenecks along key thoroughfares such as Government Road, Taylors Avenue, Thornton Road and Glenwood Drive.
Although there are plans for upgrades of some of the existing intersections, Cr Griffin believes this may not be enough.
“Despite works in the pipeline, we are seeing daily gridlock,” he said.
“It’s regularly stretching from Weakleys Drive to Somerset Park.
“With thousands more dwellings on the way, it is becoming obvious the planned works may not be enough to keep up with coming development.
“I’ve consistently and constantly advocated for Thornton residents at council meetings.
“This is demonstrated by me voting against developments that did not include appropriate infrastructure to support substantial growth.
“We are no longer in a position to keep relying on the existing road network for these new estates.
“Currently we have some motorists taking up to 45 minutes just to get out of Thornton.
“It’s time council starts to think of the resident and put infrastructure as our priority.”
Cr Griffin said there needs to be an investigation into the possibility of a bypass road.
“I see three likely options,” he stated.
“One is to the east of Somerset, one to the west near Harvest and another to the south off Haussman Drive.
“This would funnel traffic around Thornton instead of through it.
“I’m planning to discuss potential options with my fellow councillors over the coming weeks to gauge interest.
“If we don’t start the conversation now, it will never happen.”