|At the announcement of the additional $5.57 million NSW State Government funding for the Willow Tree – Merriwa Rd sealing project, LPSC Deputy Mayor Doug Hawkins, Upper Hunter Mayor Wayne Bedggood, Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen and Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce celebrate the commencement of work by LPSC on this joint project with UHSC.|
Upper Hunter Shire Council (UHSC) and Liverpool Plains Council (LPSC) have welcomed the announcement of an additional $5.57 million State Government funding to upgrade the Willow Tree to Merriwa Road (MR358), as work begins on the Liverpool Plains section of the road this week.
Celebrating the commencement of the work were Deputy PM and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce, Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen, and representatives of the two Councils, including UHSC Mayor Wayne Bedggood and LPSC Deputy Mayor Doug Hawkins.
Mr Johnsen announced the additional funding for the project from the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Roads program, adding to the $800,000 NSW Government funding from the Regional Roads REPAIR Program.
In 2016, the Federal Government made $5.5 million available through the Federal Government’s Heavy Vehicle Productivity Funding for the road upgrade.
UHSC Mayor Bedggood and LPSC Deputy Mayor Hawkins thanked the State and Federal Governments for the funding, for the much-needed road upgrade.
“The upgrade will make for a cheaper, faster and safer trip not only for industry operators and farmers but also for tourists, school buses, ambulances, families and individuals,” Councillor Bedggood said.
“This is about helping farmers, truck drivers, and small businesses getting goods to markets. It is about tourists exploring our region, locals accessing education and medical services, and doing so quickly and safely,” he said.
Councillor Hawkins said linking the Golden Highway and the New England Highway would save around 44km each way and provide enormous benefits to both Shires.
“The upgrade will encourage more commerce, including tourism, across the entire region as well as improving safety for both people and livestock,” he continued.
The Willow Tree to Merriwa road upgrade is due to be completed, including full sealing, by 2019, at a cost of over $12 million. The first stage of 1.4 kilometres is being carried out by LPSC at an estimated cost of $600,000 and should be completed by the end of June, weather permitting.