Cessnock MP Clayton Barr has called on the NSW government to explain why funding has not been allocated to Testers Hollow as a feeder road to the Hunter Expressway.
Last week was the fourth time in nine years that the stretch of Cessnock Road had been made impassable because of flooding, including April 2015 when Gillieston Heights residents were isolated after floodwater cut access at Testers Hollow and Fishery Creek.
Mr Barr said he had continued to raise the issue with Roads Minister Duncan Gay and the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).
However, he said the standard response he received was that the road only flooded every four to five years.
“The thing is, the frequency over the past four to five years has been quite high,” Mr Barr said.
Along with last week’s closure, Testers Hollow was closed for 16 days after the April super storm last year, a week in March 2013, and several days in June 2007.
After the Hunter Expressway opened in March 2014, the volume of traffic on feeder roads increased.
Mr Barr said the government needed to set aside funding for the upgrade of these roads.
“Where is that money? What has it been spent on? What feeder road projects did it fund?” he asked.
“I have used Parliament to ask many questions on this front, but to no avail.”
Mr Barr said there was a lot of frustration over the lack of action.
“It is a reality that there is a lot of talking and a ‘let’s wait and see’ [attitude] going on for those who control the dollars and ultimately make the decisions,” he said.
The RMS completed investigations into Cessnock Road at Testers Hollow in December 2013 to determine the suitability and feasibility of options for the road.
“The investigations showed any solution to provide a flood-free route through Testers Hollow is a complex one requiring both flood mitigation and road-related measures,” an RMS spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said RMS was working with Maitland City Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage to develop a flood study for Maitland LGA, which would include Testers Hollow.
“Roads and Maritime continues to work with Maitland City Council, Cessnock City Council and other state agencies to reduce the impacts of flooding of the Hunter River,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Mr Barr urged people to contact him and write letters to have their concerns about Testers Hollow heard.
“A truckload of individual letters is far more powerful than a truckload of signatures on a petition.”