Residents are frustrated that the need to flood-proof Testers Hollow has been debated in the public arena for almost a century without a solution.
A search of records from the National Library of Australia’s Trove newspaper archive shows that flooding at Testers Hollow was reported in the media as early as January 1927.
Records show that the road flooded four times between 1927 and 1931, and another four times between 1950 and 1955, when Maitland experienced its now infamous deluge.
While the newspaper records might make interesting reading for history buffs, they show that the issue has been on the public agenda for at least 90 years.
Gillieston Heights resident Michelle Adams told the Mercury on Monday she believed the decades of inaction was a disgrace.
“Perhaps there was a time in decades gone by where inaction at Testers Hollow could have somewhat been excused,” she said.
“However, Cessnock Road is no longer just a rural thoroughfare between Maitland and Cessnock.
“It is now a major link road to the Hunter Expressway and it supports thousands of commuters as well as the ever growing development in the fringes Cliftleigh and Gillieston Heights.
“It should have been given priority during the construction of the expressway.”
On January 1, 1927, The Maitland Weekly Mercury reported that water had risen to about two metres above the road and cut Kurri Kurri off from Maitland.
In August 1930, the Newcastle Sun reported that the NRMA had declared the state of Hunter roads fair, with the exception of the main road through Testers Hollow.
There were also reports that covered discussions about the flooding issues at Testers Hollow by West Maitland Council in 1921 and Kearsley Shire Council in 1931.
A Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder article from October 15, 1929, reported that five people had to be rescued from a bus after its driver tried to navigate the flooded Testers Hollow road en route from Maitland to Kurri Kurri.
Cessnock Road at Testers Hollow was inundated last week and closed to traffic for five days.
It was the second time in nine months that the key route between Maitland and Cessnock had been closed.
The Mercury has joined residents in calling for the road to be raised, or flood-proofed in some way, before it goes under again.
New route needed, says councillor
An alternate route for motorists passing through Testers Hollow could be an easier and less expensive way to provide passage for motorists when Cessnock Road is inundated, the deputy mayor of Maitland, Cr Bob Geoghegan says.
The Mercury has joined residents’ calls for a solution to be found to ongoing flooding problems on the key road between Maitland and Cessnock.
Maitland and Cessnock councils have applications before the NSW Department of Planning for land at Testers Hollow to be rezoned to allow residential development.
Cr Geoghegan said the focus shouldn’t be on raising the road, but geared toward creating a route for motorists through proposed housing developments in the area.
He estimated it would be several million dollars cheaper and faster to build an alternate route designed to cope with heavy vehicles and extra traffic at times when Cessnock Road was flooded.
“I think that is the likely solution,” Cr Geoghegan said.
“I think it has a lot of merit and the cost benefit is greater.
“I think they are unlikely to raise the road because of the cost involved and the height that they would have to raise it.”