UPPER Hunter Shire Council has defended a decision to continue plans for a rail overpass route along Muffet and Makybe Diva streets linking to the northern end of the bypass and New England Highway.
The decision was made at council’s June meeting to rescind plans for a Kelly Street rail overpass after consultation and discussions with local emergency services.
Upper Hunter Shire mayor Wayne Bedggood said by incorporating an intelligent transport system (ITS) allowing emergency services to take the fastest route given train movements at any given time, made Muffet Street the preferred option.
“Council looked at four options including Kelly Street which was previously council’s preferred location for a rail overpass,” he said.
“The traffic and transport impacts of each option were assessed and the potential benefits and negative impacts identified.
“Then we asked the views of NSW Police, Ambulance and Fire and Rescue.
“Combined with an intelligent transport system (ITS) to inform emergency services of train movements, first responders from paramedics to police, will be able to choose either the bypass or the overpass as the fastest route through town.”
Cr Bedggood said at an estimated cost of $31 million, Muffet Street is not the cheapest option, but they believe it is the best.
“Located just north of the Scone CBD it will also cause the least disruption to the streetscape,” he said.
“It will also help alleviate the flow of heavy transport through the CBD providing direct heavy vehicle access to the saleyards and industrial area.
“This will create the dual solution of a bypass and overpass that the state and federal governments agreed to several years ago.
“Council is working with the community, RMS, and other government departments on the rail overpass project and we will continue to meet with and lobby state and federal governments for funding.”
The comments come after former Upper Hunter Shire Council general manager Daryl Dutton spoke out against the decision.
“The now proposed saleyards overpass, outside the current 60 kilometres per hour limits off the highway north of Scone will do nothing for the residents of Scone and will not be a viable offset against the delays of coal trains as they become more frequent and longer,” he said.
“Satur residents going to the CBD or residents of Figtree Monty taking children to school, you will have no alternative but sit and wait.”