Funding on the table to get bypass 'shovel ready'

Federal Government commits $10 million to complete the planning for a future bypass of Muswellbrook in New South Wales

March 14, 2013

The Federal Government has put $10 million on the table to complete the planning for a future bypass of Muswellbrook in New South Wales.

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says the money will be spent on a concept design and environmental assessments to get the project "shovel ready".

He says the Hunter region is experiencing growth pressures, with the New England Highway now carrying more trucks than ever before as a result of the area’s booming mining industry.

"Our aim is to have all these pre-construction activities wrapped up in time for the project to be considered for possible inclusion in our next multi-billion dollar road and rail construction program due to start in mid-2014," Albanese says.

"We want to make sure this new piece of infrastructure fully reflects the local community’s needs and properly supports the region’s economic development, not just for the next five years but for the next five decades."

Federal Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon welcomed the funding, labelling Albanese’s announcement "a great win for the local community".

"By taking thousands of trucks a day off its local streets, a future bypass would have a transformative impact on the town of Muswellbrook," Fitzgibbon says.

"The planning work which will now be undertaken will help determine the final cost of the project and inform the community of the necessary next steps to get it delivered."

Meanwhile, Albanese says work is now underway on improvements to the Bruce Highway in Queensland to install new overtaking lanes and remove dangerous black spots around the town of Howard.

"As part of this $13 million, fully-federally funded package, new north and southbound overtaking lanes are being installed between Howard and Torbanlea," he says.

"Once completed later this year, these new 1.2km lanes will give motorists yet another opportunity to pass slower moving vehicles safely."

Albanese says dedicated right and left-turn lanes will be built at the intersection between the highway and William Street and Howard Heights Road as well as Lower Thomas Road.

"In addition, the existing southbound deceleration lane into William Street will be realigned and lengthened. These measures will allow motorists to exit the highway safely and without disrupting the flow of traffic along it," he says.

Albanese says funding for the projects is coming from the Bruce Highway Safety Package, which has so far installed 50 new overtaking lanes, fixed more than 100 dangerous black spots and built 24 new rest areas and stopping places.

"In total federal Labor has committed an unprecedented $3.3 billion to maintaining and upgrading the Bruce Highway," he says.

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