Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson has welcomed the release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Albion Park Rail Bypass, which will be available for public comment today (Wednesday, 28 October 2015), and repeated her call for construction to start in 2017.

“The release of the EIS is part of the planning stage prior to final approval for the project.

“I welcome its release and urge the public to make comments as part of the EIS feedback process.

“But, there is no reason why the State Government can’t get construction started before its indicative start year of 2019.

“The EIS and approval stages will take the next 12 months.

“The State Government has indicated that the funding is available and committed.

“There is no reason why we can’t get this project started by the 1 July 2017, as part of the 2017-18 State Budget.

“The only thing stopping that from happening on that date is the lack of political priority and will by the State Government, and the playing of short-term politics by the Member for Kiama, Gareth Ward.

“Mr Ward can play all the political games he likes, but I’d rather see – and will keep calling for – this project to start by July 2017.

“The Albion Park Rail Bypass will take at least three years to complete.

“Under the State Government’s existing timetable, if the project starts in 2019, it won’t be finished until 2022 at the earliest.

“If the State Government adopted my call, construction would start in July 2017 and be completed by 2020 – two years earlier.

“I see no reason for motorists to spend another three years in traffic gridlock just so Mr Ward can drip-feed media statements out for political photo opportunities.

“The State Government says the funding is in the Budget, and once the EIS is complete and final approvals have been given at the end of 2016, there is no remaining reason for delaying putting a shovel in the ground and getting work underway”, she said.

Ms Watson said that the Albion Park Rail Bypass construction was one of the key points in Labor’s 10 Point Plan to Support Illawarra Jobs released on the 4 September 2015.

To read the full Environmental Impact Statement, click here.

28 October 2015