Hunter Expressway open to traffic in just two weeks
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss and NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay this past Thursday announced the Hunter region's largest road infrastructure project will open to traffic on Saturday 22 March 2014.
Truss confirmed he will visit the Hunter region for an official dedication on Friday 21 March ahead of the road formally opening to traffic the next day.
"This has certainly been a much-anticipated project for people in the Hunter region, with the 40 kilometre Hunter Expressway expected to cut travel times by up to 28 minutes on the trip to Newcastle," Truss said.
"With $1.5 billion of the total $1.7 billion for the project funded by the Federal government, I am delighted to be able to visit the site to cut the ribbon to mark the completion of the Expressway.
"This is a project that has spanned three federal governments. It was identified and started under the Howard government, was continued by the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd governments and now completed by the Abbott government.
"Some 10,000 workers have been employed to build the road which included more than 288,000 tonnes of asphalt, 52 bridges and six interchanges."
Minister Gay said that ultimately the Expressway would mean more time spent with family and friends and less time on the road.
"Increasing the efficiency of the road network also provides clear productivity benefits for business and the economy," Minister Gay said.
"The new corridor will relieve congestion between Newcastle and the towns of Thornton, Maitland and Rutherford with forecast reduced traffic of 15,000 to 30,000 vehicles per day by 2031.
"There are six interchanges where motorists can access the Expressway once it opens. The interchanges are at Newcastle/M1 Pacific Motorway, Buchanan, Kurri Kurri, Loxford, Allandale and Branxton as well as the connection to the New England Highway at Lower Belford.
"We will use electronic message signs to inform motorists about the opening—they will be on major routes including the M1 Pacific Motorway, New England Highway, John Renshaw Drive, Main Road and Buchanan Road."
State Member for Maitland Robyn Parker and Federal Member for Patterson Bob Baldwin said that on March 22 the community will be able to walk or ride between the Kurri Kurri interchange and the rest areas at Buchanan, a distance of around six kilometres.
"As we promised, the community is invited to access the Expressway on 22 March, before it opens to traffic," Parker said.
"Access will be from the Kurri Kurri interchange via the pedestrian and cycle path on Main Road which runs between Kurri Kurri and Heddon Greta."
Baldwin commented: "Experienced cyclists can ride on the corridor from 7am, with access for pedestrians and recreational cyclists from 8.30am,"
"People are encouraged to park at Booth Park in Kurri Kurri and walk to the event.
"Around midday access will again be closed to allow final preparations to be made ahead of the road opening to traffic in the evening."
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