NSW Labor has committed an extra $25 million to the Singleton Bypass project to build a full interchange at Putty Road that will preserve the town's economic vitality, as well as safely diverting thousands of heavy vehicles away from the main business district.
The NSW Labor Candidate for the Upper Hunter Jeff Drayton called on voters to send a message to the Berejiklian Government on the Singleton Bypass – scheduled to be a decade late – and back the full interchange.
Labor is also calling on the Government to give priority to local workers and businesses when building the bypass. Labor’s ‘NSW Made’ policy would compel Government departments and agencies to spend taxpayer money on locally procured goods and services.
The NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay and the Shadow Minister for Roads John Graham joined Mr Drayton in Singleton to announce Labor’s first Upper Hunter by-election commitment.
“Communities like Singleton cannot be an afterthought. There is no time to waste - it’s time to get on with the job and it’s time to do it right. The Nationals said this vital road could be open in 2017. Now construction isn’t even starting until 2023. That’s not good enough,” Mr Drayton said.
“The Upper Hunter deserves a full interchange at Putty Road, not the second-rate option that’s being proposed.
“Allowing all motorists access to the town centre is critical for Singleton’s economic success. The fact that the Nationals in Macquarie Street have ignored the community’s sensible calls on this issue is unacceptable.
If elected, I will make sure the Upper Hunter’s voice is heard in Parliament. The project is being scoped by industry right now – now is the time to make sure it is designed and built right.
When the Bypass was first promised in 2013 by the NSW Nationals, Duncan Gay said that, “With a wet sail and a good tail wind the project could be open within four to five years”.
Yet instead of meeting the 2017 opening date, the Nationals are now saying construction won’t start for another two and a half years. The bypass won’t open until late 2026 – a decade overdue.
The existing design fails to include a proper interchange at Putty Road with only a northbound on-ramp and southbound off-ramp – a ‘half interchange’. Labor and the community are calling for a full interchange with two-way ramps in both directions to allow access from either side into Singleton while making sure local businesses don’t suffer.
The Government's own figures say this would cost $25 million, funding which Labor has today committed to achieving a much better version of the project than is currently planned.
On the issue of a dual carriageway the Opposition has called for discussions with the Council to continue, and called on the Government to spell out a proposed timeline for when a dual carriageway would be complete.
Ms McKay said Upper Hunter residents deserve better: “I was here just over a month ago asking the Government to come clean about its promised to build the Singleton Bypass. And I was here a year before that demanding answers. We still don’t know why it is taking so long to deliver such a vital piece of infrastructure,” Ms McKay said.
“Jeff Drayton understands how important this project is. He understands why a full interchange is needed. He isn’t afraid to stand up to the Government and fight for the people of the Upper Hunter.”
Mr Graham added: “The Premier said yesterday her government should be judged on its record. The Government promised this road would be finished in 2017. It hasn’t even started. That is symbolic of the false starts and broken promises the Upper Hunter has copped from this government.”
Mr Drayton said: “I am fighting for a fair go for everyone. Projects like this should create local jobs right here in the Upper Hunter – and as the local MP I will always put local workers, local businesses and locally produced goods and materials first.”