The long-awaited M1 Pacific Motorway to Raymond Terrace extension crept a step closer to becoming a reality following talks between the state government and the construction industry regarding the best way to progress the project.
The extension, which has been planned for more than 15 years, is proposed to divert from the motorway at Black Hill and link with the Pacific Highway at Raymond Terrace, allowing motorists to bypass the congestion points of Hexham and Heatherbrae.
Roads Minister Paul Toole said Transport for NSW had consulted widely to ensure the smoothest delivery of what will be one of the Hunter's biggest infrastructure projects.
"Talking to industry through the M1 to Raymond Terrace Market Interaction Process provided valuable insights and helped to identify the industry's perspective on the best delivery approach for the project," Mr Toole said.
"The community wants this upgrade to benefit them and we are ensuring it delivers, not just for the 60,000 motorists who use the existing road every day, but for locals too.
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The federal government has committed $1.6 billion and the state government $400 million to deliver both the M1 to Raymond Terrace and Hexham Straight projects.
"Work is also powering ahead on the 14-kilometre Coffs Harbour Bypass, so extending the M1 to Raymond Terrace is the final 'missing link' in the chain," Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said.
Transport for NSW made multiple changes in the central section of the 15-kilometre road link in 2020 following site investigations and community consultation.
An Environmental Impact Statement is due to be released for public feedback in coming months. It is hoped the project will be determined in mid-2022.
In addition to easing congestion by separating commuter and holiday traffic, the region will gain substantial economic benefits through improved access to and from key employment areas such as Tomago, Beresfield, Black Hill, the Port of Newcastle.
The governments' update on the project came on the same day that Shadow Minister for Infrastructure Catherine King and Paterson MP Meryl Swanson inspected the site.
They urged the government to urgently progress the project.
"Back in 2019, Scott Morrison promised local businesses and commuters he would finally deliver the M1 extension to Raymond Terrace," Ms King said. "But two years later, we still haven't seen a single shovel in the ground.
"This road is needed now, not 10 years down the line. It's time for the Morrison government to finally get to work on delivering this important project.
Ms Swanson urged the state and federal governments to 'get on with it'
"This is the last chokepoint between Sydney and Brisbane and it is time we see the Liberals putting their money where their mouth is and get this project moving."
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