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Preferred option adopted for Weakleys Drive.



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9th May 2005

PREFERRED OPTION ADOPTED FOR WEAKLEYS DRIVE

The Australian Government has agreed to the preferred option developed by the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority for a major upgrade to the intersection of the New England Highway and Weakleys Drive, the Member for Paterson Mr Bob Baldwin MP announced today.

Mr Baldwin said that while he was pleased a final option had now been decided on, he was sick and tired of ongoing RTA delays in the planning of this project, which is aimed at significantly reducing road congestion at this intersection.

The preferred design will provide a bridge over Weakleys Drive to carry traffic unimpeded in both directions along the New England Highway. Weakleys Drive will extend through under the New England Highway via a new section of road connecting it directly to the Thornton-Beresfield Link road. Traffic lights will be installed on Weakleys Drive at the intersection below the Highway to provide for safe turning movements for traffic to and from the Highway. This will also make the intersection far safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

The intersections of Anderson Drive and Thornton Road will be modified to provide left-in left-out movements only.

The design offers the least impact on adjoining property and is able to be constructed largely within the existing road reserve. The design will cope with traffic volumes predicted for the highest level of future growth and best accommodates pedestrians and cyclists. It also has the lowest environmental impact on the nearby Dairy Creek.

The intersection is on the AusLink National Network and the Australian government has provided $25 million for its construction.

“The area surrounding this intersection has become a major growth area for commercial, industrial and residential development. The Weakleys Drive junction is pivotal to transport flows across the lower Hunter region, especially the movement of freight. Reducing congestion and improving safety at the junction is paramount,” Mr Baldwin said.

“The next step is for the New South Wales Road and Traffic Authority to complete its Review of Environmental Factors to clear the way to commence land acquisitions and the calling of construction tenders.”

The alternative design was discounted for its impact on up to 8 commercial and residential properties, for sterilising large areas of land, higher environmental impact and the high cost of providing safe facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

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“Motorists and freight movers using this section of the New England Highway will benefit significantly from this major investment by the Australian Government particularly from the removal of three closely spaced sets on traffic lights on the New England Highway,” Mr Baldwin said.

“But I will not tolerate ongoing delays with this project. We fought hard to get this funding for Weakley’s Drive and we want improved road conditions as quickly as possible. I will continue to lobby all stakeholders until the day when the project is complete and the bottleneck at the Weakley’s Drive intersection is removed.”

Contact: Bob Baldwin 0419 694 620 Anna Fitzgerald 02 4983 1330