Construction has commenced to fix the ‘missing link’ on a major Australian motorway, funded by state and federal governments.

The $2.1 billion M1 Pacific Motorway extension includes upgrades to the surrounding network, such as the Hexham Straight widening, with the Australian Government committing $1.68 billion and the NSW Government committing $420 million to the project.

Shovels have been put in the ground and the foundations laid for the extension, with state and federal Ministers visiting the site on Tuesday 16 January 2024.

Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, said “It’s so exciting to stand alongside the NSW Government and see shovels in the ground for a project which will be a huge benefit to travellers and truck drivers, but also to Hunter Valley families.”

The extension will feature a 15km extension of the motorway, removing five sets of traffic lights and cutting nine minutes from travel times during peak periods.

It will also deliver a 2.6km viaduct over the Hunter River and floodplain, the Main North Rail Line, and the New England Highway.

There will also be new bridge crossings over local waterways at Tarro and Raymond Terrace, and an overpass for Masonite Road at Heatherbrae.

“This upgrade will mean quicker travel times between Sydney and Brisbane, but most importantly – safer travel for families and workers who use this route going up and down the east coast,” Mr Albanese said.

Speaking of the project, New South Wales Regional Transport and Roads Minister, Jenny Aitchison, said, “This will provide a welcome boost to the economy by supporting up to 2,700 direct and indirect jobs during construction and will transform the way people move to and from and through the Hunter.”

The M1 is one of two remaining locations on the east coast corridor where the route is an urban road with traffic lights – the other being at Coffs Harbour, where work is also well underway on a new bypass, due to be completed in late 2027.

Federal Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister, Catherine King, said the two projects will provide the remaining major upgrades to complete a free-flowing dual carriageway route between Sydney and Brisbane.

“The M1 extension will create more efficient and reliable journeys by bypassing five sets of traffic lights, saving nine minutes in travel time and removing about 25,000 vehicles a day from key congestion and merge points between Newcastle and Maitland,” Ms King said.

The M1 extension at Raymond Terrace is expected to be open to traffic in 2028. 

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