27 January 2021
With $560 million committed by the Australian Government and a joint news release last week from the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack, Federal Member for New England Barnaby Joyce and Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole that the Singleton bypass of the New England Highway is pushing ahead, there is more urgency than ever to get the design right now.
I had already written to Mr Toole requesting a meeting for further discussions around those issues raised by our community, namely upgrading the bypass to a dual carriageway and including a full interchange at Putty Road.
But Mr Joyce’s comments last week indicated the single lane carriageway was still very much on the agenda, with a bypass that would be designed to cater for a “later upgrade to a dual carriageway where required to meet future traffic demands”.
That said, I took heart that the Australian and NSW governments also said they are now seeking industry feedback on the best way to deliver the bypass – because what we’re hearing from our community and from the motorists who’ll be using the road is to make it dual lanes with a full interchange. The governments delivering this project are quite right that to seek feedback, and I would implore them to especially target the delivery truck drivers and other motorists who service the Singleton Town Centre to understand what their needs are, and which way they need to get onto John Street.
I can’t emphasis enough that I am whole-heartedly supportive of the concept of the Singleton bypass and the importance of this vital piece of infrastructure to our community. But we only get one chance to get it right, and after years of lobbying, we don’t want the Singleton bypass of the New England Highway to become a bittersweet project.
We should be learning from the Hunter Expressway and the fortitude that was shown for the Branxton interchange to accommodate the future development at Huntlee, as well as the work of the local community to make Branxton a destination from both directions, rather than blocking off access from one side.
We have the opportunity to plan and excute for the long-term, to provide the best possible outcome for our community. I don’t want the people of our LGA to come this far, only to be in the position of having to lobby for more money later on to address issues we’re raising now.
Cr Sue Moore
Mayor of Singleton