The Singleton Bypass is the topic of conversation in the Upper Hunter by-election today.
NSW Labor yesterday committed an extra $25 million to the project to build a full interchange at Putty Road should they get elected and should their candidate Jeff Drayton get elected on May 22.
Labor is also calling on the Government to give priority to local workers and businesses when building the bypass. Labor’s ‘NSW Made’ policy would compel Government departments and agencies to spend taxpayer money on locally procured goods and services.
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay and the Shadow Minister for Roads John Graham joined Jeff Drayton in Singleton to announce Labor’s first Upper Hunter by-election commitment yesterday.
“Communities like Singleton cannot be an afterthought. There is no time to waste - it’s time to get on with the job and it’s time to do it right. The Nationals said this vital road could be open in 2017. Now construction isn’t even starting until 2023. That’s not good enough,” Jeff Drayton said.
“Allowing all motorists access to the town centre is critical for Singleton’s economic success. The fact that the Nationals in Macquarie Street have ignored the community’s sensible calls on this issue is unacceptable."
“If elected, I will make sure the Upper Hunter’s voice is heard in Parliament. The project is being scoped by industry right now – now is the time to make sure it is designed and built right.”
NSW Labor said instead of meeting the 2017 opening date, the Nationals are now saying construction won’t start for another two and a half years. The bypass won’t open until late 2026 – a decade overdue.
NSW Labor added that the existing design fails to include a proper interchange at Putty Road with only a northbound on-ramp and southbound off-ramp – a ‘half interchange’. Labor and the community are calling for a full interchange with two-way ramps in both directions to allow access from either side into Singleton while making sure local businesses don’t suffer.
The Government's own figures say this would cost $25 million, funding which Labor has today committed to achieving a much better version of the project than is currently planned.
On the issue of a dual carriageway the Opposition has called for discussions with the Council to continue, and called on the Government to spell out a proposed timeline for when a dual carriageway would be complete.
Meantime the NSW Nationals candidate Dave Layzell agrees that there should be a full interchange as a part of the Singleton Bypass project.
“I’ve spoken to Singleton Council and many locals about the bypass and the need for a full interchange,” Dave Layzell said.
“It seems common sense to me, people need to be able to get in and out of town, so I’ve spoken with NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole about how we can make it happen."
While getting the interchange right is an important part of the project, Dave Layzell said he didn’t want to see the project delayed.
“This road is needed now, and any delays to the construction timeline will mean more time spent in traffic and increased risk of accidents.”
The NSW Nationals candidate said he wanted to see construction start on the project as soon as possible and all design changes that take place to include interchange should not delay the start of construction.
Image credit: NSW Labor and NSW Nationals