Road relief for Merriwa motorists

Filed in Just In by May 19, 2021

BUNNAN Road upgrades are now underway to provide a safe alternate route for heavy vehicles in light of the Merriwa-Willow Tree Road closure.

The $6.2 million upgrade will be completed in three sections over a 13 kilometre stretch of road and has been jointly funded by the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Roads program, the Australian Government’s Roads to Recovery program and the Upper Hunter Shire Council.

Roadway between Ollerton Drive and Sophia Creek Road is included in the first section of works, which will see construction of a slow vehicle lane to clear the bottleneck between the two roads.

Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Maurice Collison said he has complete confidence in the Council road crew to deliver the upgrade project, which will be vital to the ongoing economic prosperity in the Upper Hunter.

“On this part of the road there’s going to be extra over taking lanes, seal works, a mixture of work over the three stages,” Cr Collison said.

“This is a completely different scenario to 358 [Merriwa-Willow Tree Road] . . . I’ve got all the confidence in our construction crew to do this road,” he said.

“Bunnan Road serves as a key route to the west, linking places like Merriwa and Cassilis to bigger centres such as Scone, so these road upgrades will help keep freight moving and local communities connected,” he said.  

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said despite the Merriwa-Willow Tree Road failure, councils have good road work crews and all tiers of government play catch-up with road funding and maintenance.

“I know there’s a lot that’s been said about Coulsons Creek Road in relation to an engineering failure but the reality is, councils have good work crews. They actually know how to build roads,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Unfortunately some of the engineering goes wrong, we had some heavy flood events that have caused some issues but even on that we’ll work with Council to work ways of funding that moving forward,” he said.

“We’re playing catch up . . . it’s catchup for decades of  lack of investment or inability. We are a large country, geography is against us, we have large tracks of roads and it’s difficult for local, state and federal government’s to fund,” he said.

Mayor Collison said Council will continue working with government to find funding to cover the $15 million Merriwa-Willow Tree Road rehabilitation. 

“We’ve got a small amount of funding from the government to go in but we’ve also got funding lined up through loan payments. Whilst politicians are around we’ll keep funding,” said Cr Collison.

For more information on where candidates stand: Voting 101: Upper Hunter by-election. 

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