No matter where you live in our electorate, chances are you use the Princes Highway through Albion Park Rail.
It is a notorious stretch of road, which in heavy traffic leads to massive congestion. Cars and trucks move at a snail’s pace during peak periods – and public holidays, like school holidays, Easter, Christmas and the New Year period are the worst times.
The NRMA has confirmed this in its Worst Roads survey, identifying the Princes Highway stretch at Albion Park Rail as the worst road in the Illawarra, and one of the worst in NSW.
An RMS report, commissioned by the NSW government, has made it clear that traffic congestion will only get worse over the coming years without a bypass.
Anna Watson has been actively lobbying the NSW Minister for Roads since her election in March 2011 for action on the Albion Park Rail bypass, labelling it the Illawarra’s ‘missing link’ in Princes Highway upgrades.
Following public pressure from Anna, the NSW government allocated $1 million, and then another $100,000 towards a study of the possible route corridors for building a bypass around Albion Park Rail.
After delays and calls for progress from the Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister for the Illawarra, the report was released at the end of 2013. However, in an expensive embarrassment for the NSW Liberal Government, this study the commissioned – worth $1.1 million and taking 2 years to complete – only reconfirmed the existing road route set aside nearly 20 years ago. It has left the local community shaking its heads at this waste of an exercise.
But looking ahead, we now have the report, we know the preferred route options, and community consultations have occurred. Yet, the timeframe set out by the RMS in 2014, estimating another 10 years before any construction of this vital piece of road infrastructure happens is simply not good enough. It is unacceptable.
The bypass is a $600 million investment that will provide jobs for the region and significantly improve local road infrastructure.
There is nothing stopping the NSW government from front-loading all of the planning, engineering and conceptual design work into a shorter period of time, getting that completed and construction of the road started. It must be seen as more of a priority by the NSW government.
But it’s just been more of the same Albion Park Rail bypass disappointments, delays and backflips for local motorists, who continue to suffer frustrating traffic congestion and delays along the Princes Highway in Albion Park Rail. Even in the 2017-18 budget – a budget which boasted a $4.5 billion surplus – there was still little more than the same paper-shuffling funding for a bypass which has been planned to death for the past seven years.
Budget after budget, year after year, the NSW Government has dragged and dragged the chain on this project. We still don’t even have a start or completion date for construction (in fact, the Government voted against it in Parliament), and its cost has also blown out before a single shovel has hit the ground.
Now, it seems the Government has decided to cut corners and ask our community to compromise: Anna is calling for the NSW Government to come clean on whether they are planning to exclude the Dapto community from accessing the Albion Park Rail bypass, by not building the Yallah interchange. They’ve refused to answer so far. Without this interchange, Dapto commuters’ journeys will include an additional 16 intersections and six sets of traffic lights, and will take 30% more time to travel the same distance.
“A deliberate exclusion of one of the fastest growing areas in New South Wales is not only short-sighted, but cruel, considering how long this bypass has been planned and publicised in our region,” Anna Watson said, “I will not stand for a half-baked construction of the bypass. The residents of Dapto deserve to receive the same benefits and opportunities from the bypass as the rest of our region.”
Sign our petition to send a clear message to the NSW Government: build the Yallah Interchange and don’t leave Dapto residents behind.
By the time the construction of the Albion Park Rail Bypass is finally started, the Liberal National Government will have been in power for nearly a decade.
“It appears the Premier is putting off this project to coincide with the 2019 state election as a last minute grab for local votes,” Anna Watson said, “The NSW Government needs to stop playing politics with such incredibly overdue road infrastructure and fast-track construction of this vital missing link on the M1 corridor.”
Anna will keep up the pressure on the NSW Government to get a move on with the planning, allocate funding in future NSW budgets and start building this much-needed Albion Park Rail bypass – including the Yallah interchange.