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Freight expectations: Hunter Expressway opens for business

24 March, 2014

Residents and freight operators alike have cause for celebration, with the $1.7 billion Hunter Expressway opened to traffic.

Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss joined New South Wales Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay at the official dedication on Friday (21 March), ahead of the community open day the following day.

Truss said road users would save up to 28 minutes by using the 40 kilometre expressway from Branxton to the Pacific Motorway after it opens to traffic on Saturday night.

"The Hunter Expressway provides a more direct freight route from the Port of Newcastle to the regions of Central Queensland, Northern New South Wales and Central New South Wales," Truss said.

"The Hunter Expressway will soon be complemented on the New England Highway by an $80 million realignment at Bolivia Hill and the $45 million Scone Level Crossing.

"These game-changing projects are part of the Coalition government's $35.5 billion Infrastructure Investment Programme, which will deliver the biggest infrastructure agenda in Australia's history and drive strong, long-lasting economic benefits."

Gay said the Hunter Expressway would significantly ease congestion by taking trucks and through traffic off local roads.

"This will return local roads to local communities and make them safer for residents and motorists," Gay said.

"Traffic on the New England Highway through Maitland is forecast to halve as traffic moves onto the expressway, with towns like Greta and Branxton seeing similar benefits.

"In addition to the safety and productivity benefits of the project, the Hunter Expressway is a magnificent display of engineering.  One of the bridges through the Sugarloaf Range rises 47 metres above the valley floor.

"I encourage people to take the opportunity tomorrow morning to enjoy walking or cycling along the Expressway at the community open day. It will be a great day for the Hunter."

The Australian government provided $1.5 billion to deliver the Hunter Expressway, and the New South Wales government provided the remaining $200 million.

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