'It's an advertisement for the town': the $137 million New England Highway Bypass of Scone project speeding ahead

SPEEDING AHEAD: RMS Project Manager Mark Cure, Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Wayne Bedggood, RMS Regional Director Anna Zycki, Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen, Upper Hunter Shire General Manager Steve McDonald and Daracon Project Manager Justin Foot standing on the New England Highway Bypass of Scone on Monday.
SPEEDING AHEAD: RMS Project Manager Mark Cure, Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Wayne Bedggood, RMS Regional Director Anna Zycki, Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen, Upper Hunter Shire General Manager Steve McDonald and Daracon Project Manager Justin Foot standing on the New England Highway Bypass of Scone on Monday.

THE opposite of turning away local business, Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Wayne Bedggood believes the New England Highway Bypass of Scone is "an advertisement for the town".

"Standing up here now I get a real feel for what the town of Scone looks like from this bypass," he said.

"You drive through, you can see the golf course, our sporting fields and the town itself and I think you see more up here than you do on the ground."

The mayor joined New England MP Barnaby Joyce, Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen, Upper Hunter Shire General Manager Steve McDonald and representatives from Daracon and RMS for a tour of the works on Monday.

He believes there has been a massive change in the general acceptance of the project, with the community starting to feel more positive now they can see the work coming together.

"Initially there was disbelief that it was going to happen," Mr Bedggood said.

"Now everyone is getting their head around what the town might look like and how they might benefit from it.

"I think that Daracon and RMS should be applauded for the way they have carried this operation out".

With work on the $137 million project nearing the final stretch, and the last bridge girder having been lowered into place, Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen said works were coming along very nicely.

"The concrete on the bridges will be poured in the next couple of weeks, weather-permitting," he said.

"It's really taking shape, there's no doubt about it - it's well ahead of schedule and while we want it to rain, dry weather has been good for the construction."

The State Government delivered $7 million in the 2019/20 State Budget for the revitalisation of Kelly Street once the bypass is finished, bringing their total commitment to the project to close to $10 million.

Mr Bedggood added the time frame of the revitalisation works is dependent on the bypass being finished and then the handover of Kelly Street and what that might look like.

"That section of road actually has to have some work done to it and we've got to do water and drainage works as well," he said.

"So we will be working closely with RMS and getting a plan together and we would like to have it opened as soon as possible after the bypass opens."

New England MP Barnaby Joyce said the $137 million spent on the Scone Bypass is a $137 million capital injection into the Scone economy.

"This money is being spent on the road and also in wages, salaries and contract fees, which ends up in the local hotels, motels and restaurants," he added.


This comes on top of an additional $140 million recently allocated to the upgrade of the New England Highway with work yet to commence.

RMS Regional Director Anna Zycki said while the project is ahead of schedule due to dry conditions, they are still aiming for a mid-2020 finish.

"We're really looking forward to seeing this one finished," she said.

"It's well ahead of time and when it's finished it will make a really big difference to the town's centre taking heavy vehicles out of town, helping with freight efficiency and helping the economy overall."

With the majority of groundwork complete, the next stages of the project include road surfacing and concreting on bridges.

"From the town you will be able to see people up on the bridge quite regularly in a few weeks doing concreting," Ms Zycki added.

Construction of the two-lane highway bypass started in July last year with delivery of the first load of concrete bridge girders.

The Australian government has committed $65 million to the Scone Bypass project and the NSW government $72 million.

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