Mandalong Rd and Speers Point roundabout

29th March 2022

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (22:02): The town of Morisset and surrounds has some $1.2 billion of private investment in a number of large and exciting projects being placed at risk due to the appalling lack of investment in public roads and infrastructure in the area. Work has recently begun on a project named Cedar Mill. It is a redevelopment of land that once housed Morisset Golf Course but will now deliver a 30,000-person capacity outdoor concert venue attracting world-class events, as well as a family-orientated water park set among a host of new community facilities, including cafes and restaurants. Work is also about to start on an over-55s village on another part of the site, which I understand will be the largest of its type in Australia. Just down the road, work on a 26,000 square metre retail centre is also about to start. A few kilometres away, plans have been submitted for a $700 million luxury hotel and apartment project at Trinity Point, while residential developments in the Cooranbong, Morisset and Wyee area will soon add 4,500 new homes to the mix.

All of this is happening around a road system, including State road B53, that is hopelessly inadequate. Areas like Morisset are home to a large population of people who commute to Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle for work. Notwithstanding the single-lane traffic issues in the Morisset township, they all funnel out to the M1 motorway via Mandalong Road. At peak times, traffic queues can stretch back to the M1, so we can only imagine how much worse it will get.

There is a plan to alleviate the issues on Mandalong Road, but it is currently devoid of State funds. In short, it will require $40 million to widen the stretch of Mandalong Road between the M1 and Morisset. That includes a new and bigger roundabout at the intersection of Gateway Boulevard, and the same at the intersection of Wyee Road, to provide left-turn lanes into all feeder roads. The project has a $20 million commitment from the Federal Opposition, with the Federal Government hopefully matching that commitment in the coming weeks. There is also a commitment of $5 million from the local council via developer contributions. That leaves a $15 million to $20 million gap, which I am hoping will be filled by the State. It is, after all, a State road in one of the State's fastest growing regions.

I have discussed the issue with the Treasurer and Minister Farraway with a view to the project being included in the upcoming budget. I have been encouraged by their responses, but I cannot stress enough the need to move quickly on the issue. The benefits of unlocking the development potential at Morisset are enormous, and much of them hinge on our capacity to fix the problems with roads. Some 20 kilometres north, on the B53, we have a growing problem at Speers Point. The roundabout at the intersection of Five Islands Road and The Esplanade is a major bottleneck at peak times. I am told that Transport for NSW has been considering a number of options for the Speers Point roundabout, and the most likely solution may not require a huge investment from the State. The installation of traffic metering lights would go a long way to controlling traffic flows in the morning and afternoon peaks.

As I said in the Chamber again only last week, Lake Macquarie is facing a number of difficult challenges over the coming years, not the least of which is the closure of Eraring Power Station seven years ahead of schedule. If we are to have any chance of attracting new industry, meeting housing supply demands and creating the thousands of new jobs that will be required as the power industry transitions away from coal, we need to see far better levels of investment in local roads and infrastructure than we have seen from successive governments over the past few decades.

I will be clear that the current road issue at Morisset would cost the State about $20 million to fix, and the one at Speers Point would likely cost about $6 million, but they would facilitate more than $1.2 billion worth of private investment. Investment in State-owned roads in Lake Macquarie has been left to fail for too long. That area has been a huge source of revenue for the State over recent decades, and it can continue doing that for decades to come, but it needs investment now. Billions of dollars worth of private investment is waiting in the wings at Morisset right now. We cannot afford to lose that in Lake Macquarie, and neither can the State of New South Wales.

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