The $12 million Willow Tree to Merriwa Road upgrade will be done by September, weather permitting.
The joint project between Upper Hunter Shire Council and the Liverpool Plains Shire Council will see the entire road sealed and the Golden Highway linked with the New England Highway saving around 44km each way providing a faster and safer route between the shires for locals, visitors, stock and produce transport.
Upper Hunter Shire Council has already sealed 8km of road, with two kilometres to go within Stage 2 of the project. Stage 2 has involved widening of the cutting over the Liverpool Range, where a change in elevation of 200m, requiring over 180,000m3 of rock, earth and some trees to be moved, along a 3km stretch of the road. Those major earthworks are now complete and the road crews are currently working on road shape corrections and drainage.
As there are still a couple of kilometres yet to be sealed, motorists are being urged to avoid the road in wet weather.
In 2016, the Australian Government made $5.5 million available for the road upgrade through the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.
There's also $5.57 million from the NSW Government’s ‘Restart NSW Fixing Country Roads’ program, adding to the $800,000 NSW Government’s funding from the Regional Roads REPAIR Program.
Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen said he was eagerly anticipating completion of the project which would greatly improve freight efficiencies for the region.
“Projects like this help keep our $60 billion freight industry moving by cutting costs and boosting productivity for our local primary producers and farmers, as well as creating a safer and more efficient road system for all motorists,” Michael Johnsen said.
“This funding is part of the Nationals in Government’s ongoing commitment to our local communities in Upper Hunter, and to wider rural and regional NSW.”
Mayor Wayne Bedggood said the upgrade will make for a cheaper, faster and safer trip for not only industry operators and farmers but also for tourists, school buses, ambulances, families and individuals.
“This is about helping farmers, truck drivers, and small businesses getting goods to markets. It is about tourists exploring our region, locals accessing education and medical services, and doing so quickly and safely.”
Image credit: Upper Hunter Shire Council.