THE Willow Tree to Merriwa road upgrade is expected to drastically cut travel times and address safety concerns.
Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce inspected the location of planned works recently along with members of the Upper Hunter and Liverpool Plans shire councils.
Mr Joyce said the Coalition Government was ensuring heavy vehicles had safer and more efficient trips through the Liverpool Plains with its $5.4 million upgrade of the road.
“Having a reliable and accessible freight road network is critically important for businesses in this part of the world,” Mr Joyce said.
“By the time this project is completed, the road’s load limit will be able to increase from 56 to 68 tonnes, which means more cattle and other loads can be shifted in fewer trips, which will help reduced costs for local businesses.
“The upgrade will also provide an alternative route in the case of closures on the Merriwa to Muswellbrook road, ensuring access is maintained to abattoirs at Scone, Whittingham and Kurri.”
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the upgrade would raise the tonnage limit on the existing road and address safety concerns on the route.
“This project will cut travel times by up to 90 minutes between Merriwa town centre and the Killara Feedlot near Quirindi, reducing costs for beef producers supplying markets in the Liverpool Plains area,” Mr Chester said.
“That means up to three hours less driving for our heavy vehicle operators which will reduce the potential for fatigue-based accidents on rural roads.
“This project shows the Government’s commitment to help businesses deliver the jobs and growth regional Australians need through much-needed investment in transport infrastructure.”
Construction is expected to get underway next year, with completion due in 2019.
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