UPPER Hunter Shire Council has revoked plans for a Kelly Street rail overpass with an overpass at the northern end of town now on the table as the preferred option.
A motion was passed at Council’s June meeting to work with the RMS, other government departments and the community to further develop a proposal for a rail overpass at Muffet Street near the saleyards and continue to lobby for funding.
The overpass at Muffet Street and Makybe Diva Street would link to the northern end of the bypass and the New England Highway.
There were four options in total put forward, including the existing rail crossing location at Kelly Street, St Aubins Street or Sherwood Street but the general consensus among the community’s emergency service providers and police is that the northern end of town would make the most sense, alleviating the flow of heavy transport through the CBD and providing a direct heavy vehicle access route to the town’s saleyards and industrial area.
Council also passed a motion to request the RMS implement an intelligent transport system (ITS) to inform emergency services of the need to divert early to the bypass or overpass due to an approaching train.
With an ITS system on the cards local emergency services and police have come out in support of the overpass at the northern end.
“I appreciate the access, design and financial constraints of an overpass at either St Aubins or Kelly Street,” Hunter Valley Police District Chief Inspector Guy Guiana said in a letter to council.
“I am also mindful of the potential impact on CBD businesses and traffic flow.
“While the optimal rail solution for emergency services is a crossing close to the centre of town I accept that the cost and impact could outweigh the potential benefits.
“It is in my opinion that the addition of a railway overpass at Muffet Street will certainly meet the needs of police and provide for acceptable response times.”
Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Upper Hunter zone commander Superintendent Brett Jackson agreed that Muffet Street was the best option and “would be sufficient to not delay responding crews drastically from Scone Fire Station.”
“Whilst having an overpass in the middle of town coming off St Aubins Street might seem like the ideal solution I don’t think it is in the best interest of the town to potentially remove the existing businesses at the Kelly Street intersection for this purpose,” he said.
After recent meetings with State Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey at Parliament House to discuss financial assistance, council says the overpass remains a high priority.
Meanwhile, construction of the $120 million Scone bypass is ramping up with the first girders arriving for construction of one of three bridges on the bypass, the Parsons Gully Bridge.
RMS says 170 more girders are expected to be delivered in the next six months for use across the three bridges.