The $12 million dollar Liverpool Plains road upgrades have now begun, with works on the road linking Merriwa and the Killara Feedlot near Willow Tree, NSW, aiming to cut up to 88 km off the trip across the Liverpool Range.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the project would also raise the tonnage limit on the road, making the trip quicker and safer for cattle trucks, heavy vehicles and other motorists using the route.
“The tonnage limit on the MR358 will be lifted from 56 to 68 tonnes, which means larger freight carriers will be able to use the route and from Merriwa to Willow Tree Road,” Mr Chester said.
“It’s a great example of how our $288 million Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Programme is boosting the safety and efficiency of key freight links, supporting local businesses and jobs and bolstering national productivity.”
Federal Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said the upgrade was expected to cut up to 88km off the journey between Merriwa town centre and the Killara Feedlot.
“We are getting moving on this project and it’s great to see works now underway. In the not too distant future we’ll see the end result of our investment, namely big time and money savings for heavy vehicle operators,” Mr Joyce said.
“This is a vital road link that goes from the new part of the electorate to the old part of the electorate that is being delivered as promised to improve local transport links.
“It also shows the Australian Government’s commitment to help businesses deliver the jobs and growth regional Australians need through much-needed investment in transport infrastructure.”
Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Wayne Bedggood said there was a very strong case for upgrading the road.
“This is about helping farmers and truck drivers get goods to markets quickly and safely. It’s also an opportunity to deliver much needed infrastructure that will result in cost savings to those residents and smaller businesses transporting locally produced goods and services into both Shires,” Cr Bedggood said.
“There are also significant safety outcomes for local transport company employees with fatigue management benefits through the reduction of travel times and road condition issues being addressed.”
Liverpool Plains Shire Mayor Andrew Hope said the upgrade would improve safety and boost transit times between the Liverpool Plains and Merriwa and areas to the south west.
“It will also improve freight efficiency through reduced travel times between agricultural markets in the Upper Hunter and Liverpool Plains Shires and as such will be a boost for the economy. Liverpool Plains Shire Council is grateful to the Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England and the Federal Government in providing funding to greatly improve our road network,” Cr Hope said.
The Australian Government has committed $5.452 million to the project, with Upper Hunter Shire Council contributing $5,300,702 and Liverpool Plains Shire Council $1.409 million.
The project is due for completion in 2019.