There is one issue that is constantly raised with Anna in the Dapto and West Dapto areas – improving traffic access and congestion.
West Dapto is continuing its growth spurt, developing into a major metropolitan suburb. The Dapto CBD is modernising – the eastern side of Dapto separated by the F6 Freeway is now mainly an established suburb. Very shortly a series of villages will be developed toward the very western edge of Horsley and across Kembla Grange. Calderwood is also developing.
Over the next 20 years as growth in the area continues, the Dapto and West Dapto areas will contain a population catchment that estimates suggest will be up to 50,000 people and approximately 19,000 new dwellings – enough for an electorate on its own.
The influx of new housing and businesses will place even more pressure on Dapto CBD and West Dapto’s existing local road network. Anna has been calling for funding investment to improve this road infrastructure.
The former NSW Labor Government provided Wollongong City Council with a $26.1 million interest-free loan in January 2010 under the NSW Local Infrastructure Fund. The former federal Labor Government also provided an additional $14 million in Commonwealth funds.
This infrastructure funding has been used by Wollongong City Council to upgrade existing local roads and to build new road links across the West Dapto area. The completion of the Cleveland Road upgrade in 2014, including the opening of the Cleveland Road Bridge, and continuing road improvements at Shone Avenue, West Dapto, are examples of this.
The overall objective of these improvements is to ‘flood proof’ traffic access to West Dapto in the event of substantial and sustained rain events. It will also provide a road network of choice for local residents to use instead of concentrating all traffic movement on the one trunk of Bong Bong Road.
But more needs to be done. Anna has on several occasions called on the NSW Government to get serious about road infrastructure in Dapto / West Dapto and develop an integrated infrastructure plan for the urban growth area of West Dapto.
On-off ramps on the M1 Motorway for Dapto
Since 2013, Anna has called on the NSW Government to relieve traffic pressure in the Dapto CBD by upgrade the M1 motorway near Dapto: widening the road and adding on-and-off ramps at Kanahooka Road, Fowlers Road and Emerson Road as a matter of priority.
Her advocacy secured $50,000 from the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) in 2014 to conduct a study into the need for additional on-off ramps, however the study was yet to commence more than six months after it was announced.
The NSW Government has spent over three years talking about upgrading the M1 between Dapto and Figtree, but has still failed to deliver the desperately needed on-off ramps. This is despite them being identified as necessary in the State Government’s Draft Illawarra Infrastructure Growth Plan released in 2014.
Under questioning from Labor in August 2014, October 2014 and June 2015, the NSW Government said works on improvements were in their preliminary stages. Now, over three years on from their commitment, the RMS website suggests plans for improvements are still yet to move beyond “preliminary investigations”.
“The NSW Government has a responsibility to ensure local infrastructure development keeps pace with expected population growth,” Anna Watson said, “It’s time for the Government to come clean with the community, establish a firm timetable and tell us when these critical road upgrades will actually be built.”
Fowler’s Road extension project
The Fowler’s Road extension project in Dapto is a four-lane, 1.3-kilometre road link between Fowlers Road and Fairwater Drive, linking West Dapto’s growing population to the M1 Motorway. It will increase safety, improve amenity for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, and provide better access during flood events.
While funding success in 2013 for the project as part of the $100 million Illawarra Infrastructure Fund was welcome and built on the previous road funding infrastructure, the region could have benefited from far more infrastructure funding to go around, had the NSW Government provided the Illawarra with a better share of the Port of Port Kembla lease proceeds.
Further, the funding wasn’t released to get the project to get underway until two years later, in 2016. At the start of 2018, only Stage 1A has been completed. Work on Stage 1B is ongoing, with Stages 1C and 1D yet to start. Work on Stage 2 is expected to start in mid-2018. It’s anticipated work will continue into at least 2020. No completion date has been specified, but Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbery has conceded it could take up to 2026 to complete.
Anna is monitoring the progress of this project to ensure no further delays and the people of Dapto and West Dapto get access to this link as soon as possible.
For more information on the major projects under the West Dapto Access Strategy, visit the Wollongong City Council website.
Anna will continue to fight for the infrastructure funding and support that this booming Dapto and West Dapto area needs.