Lake Macquarie Transport Infrastructure

8th November 2016

Mr GREG PIPER ( Lake Macquarie ) ( 17:45 :29 ): I have previously raised in this House the planned Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange [LMTI] and associated works, which includes construction of the Pennant Street Bridge, the extension of Stockland Drive, and a new rail station and associated infrastructure. I wish to do so again and add to the discussion the much-needed nearby Munibung Road extension, which will complete the local road network and, in conjunction with the LMTI, deliver huge opportunities for the region. In May 2011, I informed the House that the plan for the LMTI had been unanimously endorsed by the mayors of the 11 Hunter region councils. They said the interchange plan was their major regional priority, as did the Hunter Business Chamber and many other key business and community groups.

In the newly released Hunter Regional Plan 2036, development of the interchange and the development of Glendale are listed as key objectives that would provide not just transport and road traffic solutions, but many thousands of new jobs in a strategic gateway to Newcastle. Chief among the benefits is the creation of a huge new employment zone in the Cardiff industrial area. The demographically central location offers a great deal to the region, underpinned by new connectivity to the main road network. Development of the interchange is seen as a critical factor for many people in determining their use of public transport, and the Pennant Street Bridge will enhance access to that major transport hub. I should note that the State Government has made a $15 million commitment to the project's first stage, with significant contributions also coming from the Federal Government and Lake Macquarie City Council. I thank them for those contributions.

But that is where it ends, and that is also where another crucial deficiency begins. That crucial unresolved aspect is the extension of Munibung Road, which is essential to expanding the Cardiff industrial estate and resolving traffic congestion in the area. Land for the road extension became available through redevelopment of the former Pasminco lead smelter site. The extension of Munibung Road would essentially connect the existing estate at Cardiff with Lake Road—Main Road B53—at Boolaroo. It would reduce travel times for vehicles travelling between Cardiff and Boolaroo and significantly reduce congestion at existing pinch points at Glendale, Argenton and Cardiff.

To give a further example, if someone from a business currently located at the western end of the existing Cardiff industrial estate on Munibung Road wanted to travel to Speers Point it would take 11 minutes. If Munibung Road were extended, it would take only one minute. As I mentioned previously, Lake Road at Glendale is currently a pinch point for high traffic congestion during peak times. It carries some 27,700 vehicle movements per day, or 2,800 per hour in peak time. Roads and Maritime Services estimates that this will swell to 35,000 per day by 2030.

The major deficiency in the road network is clearly the 700-metre road extension. With a total project cost of about $6.3 million and some $1.6 million provided in kind by the administrators of the Pasminco site, Ferrier Hodgson, for land acquisition and $312,000 worth of project management to be provided in kind by Lake Macquarie council, there is a need for $4.46 million, which I am hoping the State Government can contribute via a Restart NSW funding application already made by Lake Macquarie City Council. The overarching objective of the Munibung Road extension project is to contribute to creating an epicentre of employment and residential growth in the Glendale-Cardiff area.

I should add that that area is described as "the key strategic centre for the Lower Hunter" in both of the State Government's most recent regional planning documents—the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy—and, as I said earlier, the new Hunter Regional Plan 2036. Those documents project that an additional 6,200 jobs and 4,000 new dwellings will be created by 2031 in the Glendale-Cardiff area. Lake Macquarie council's planning estimates predict that the greater Glendale area will host an additional 13,635 people, 6,200 jobs and 6,000 new dwellings by 2030. Traffic and transport infrastructure is absolutely crucial to support that future growth. A $4.5 million investment by the State Government will provide huge economic returns—not only for the region but also for the State Government.

Nearby in Newcastle, the State Government is spending almost half a billion dollars on a city revitalisation project, most of which is being spent on what I have referred to as a boutique light rail project. While critical of that cost and the overemphasis in State spending on the Newcastle central business district, I am not seeking to undermine the funding commitments to that community. What I am saying is that for far less than the Government is spending in Newcastle, the Government could achieve substantially greater outcomes for many more people with more strategic and, dare I say, much cheaper investments, such as I have described.

I suggest that $4.5 million for the Munibung Road extension would improve road transport significantly and reduce existing congestion. Funding for the remainder of the transport interchange and the Pennant Street Bridge projects would do far more to improve public transport in the whole Hunter Region than the short and hugely expensive light rail system in Newcastle—a project that has divided the community, unlike the proposed Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange, which has enjoyed broad community support for many years. I again urge the Government to recognise regional and statewide benefits and commit to funding those sensible projects.

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