In some good news for residents of the Upper Hunter the Federal government has committed $48 million to reconstruct the Merriwa to Willow Tree Road.
Deemed a critical livestock link the road, also known as Coulson's Creek Road has been deemed unsafe for any traffic since January 2021.
The initial upgrade work began in October 2019 but it was bungled forcing the creation of an extensive detour for those travelling from one side of the Upper Hunter to the other, and added hours to the round trip to Tamworth via Scone.
ACM reported earlier this year that the initial $10 million price tag had blown out to more than $60 million and, most egregiously, the road goes nowhere after a report concluded its construction had "significant deviations from the design.
There has been ongoing local criticism of the initial upgrade and its subsequent failure especially now the Upper Hunter is back facing severe dry times. and moving livestock and fodder becomes a priority.
Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell welcomed the announcement that federal government funding has now been secured for the $48 million repair of MR358 between Merriwa and Willow Tree.
"I have called for common sense to prevail throughout the long campaign to lock-in the finances so the work can finally take place because Upper Hunter Shire Council needed extra assistance to undertake this expensive repair," Mr Layzell said.
"I am so pleased the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, appreciated the need to restore the direct regional road link between the Upper Hunter and the Liverpool Plains."
"The previous Nationals and Liberals federal governments had committed $38 million in May last year for the work with the Nationals and Liberal NSW Government to contribute $9.6 million to the project.
"Whilst, the Minns NSW Government agreed to deliver the state funding, the project has been delayed awaiting confirmation of the federal money."
Mr Layzell said the closure has impacted the lives of people who need to travel to Tamworth for medical treatment and the financial viability of local farmers who have had to shoulder increased costs for their businesses.
"I cannot stress how important it is to get this work done and completed to the required standard which delivers the heavy vehicle safety improvements that were originally intended by this project," he said.
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