In a joint venture, the Federal Government and New South Wales Government have committed to a $48.3 million project to rebuild MR358 between Merriwa and Willow Tree.
The Federal Government will contribute $38.64 million if re-elected with the New South Wales Government contributing the remaining $9.66 million to restore this livestock freight route in the Upper Hunter region.
Transport for New South Wales will lead the delivery of the project with preparation of a strategic and financial business case to be prepared under the agency’s Investment Assurance Framework.
Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, said the stretch of road must be restored to use.
“This important transport link connects the New England Highway to the Golden Highway and the Federal Government is committed to getting it up and running to have the best supply chain possible for our livestock and other goods,” Mr Joyce said.
“Rebuilding this road will better connect our communities, boost local economies and enhance supply chain movement and productivity.”
New South Wales Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Sam Farraway, said rebuilding this link is a big win for the local community who have waited more than 12 months to see vital repairs take place.
“Rebuilding this stretch of road not only provides a crucial link for the freight industry, but also creates a safer and more efficient connection for the local community,” Mr Farraway said.
“It means trucks will once again come through their towns, stopping in at local cafes and bringing back economic certainty to Merriwa and Willow Tree.
“I welcome the funding from the Federal Government and look forward to working with Upper Hunter Shire Council to get shovels in the ground and deliver this project.”
New South Wales Member for Upper Hunter, Dave Layzell, said, “The ongoing closure of MR358 is having an immense impact on Upper Hunter communities forcing people to take lengthy journeys because they do not have a direct route between Merriwa and Willow Tree.
“I thank the Federal Government for its commitment because the wait for this road to be repaired and re-opened has placed a strain on the community.”
Upper Hunter Shire Council Mayor, Maurice Collison, said he thanked the community for their patience and the state and federal governments for their cooperation in bringing this funding to the community.
“The announcement today of funding for the Willow Tree to Merriwa Road would be greatly appreciated by the community,” Mr Collison said.
“The disruption to the residents and travellers in and through the Upper Hunter and even wider afield has taken its toll.”
Since 2013, the Federal Government has committed more than $48.5 billion towards infrastructure projects in New South Wales, including $3.3 billion in the 2022-23 Federal Budget.