THE fifth and final stage in the Newcastle inner-city bypass is set to get a $150million state budget boost, kick-starting the $280million missing link in the orbital road, more than 50 years in the making.
Premier Mike Baird will visit the city today to outline the commitment in next Tuesday’s budget, which will allow detailed planning work for the Rankin Park-to-Jesmond section to get under way.
Construction of the 3.4-kilometre dual carriageway, to alleviate traffic bottlenecks near the John Hunter Hospital, could start in 2017.
“The NSW government is determined to transform the Hunter, which is why we are getting on with the job of building infrastructure across the region,” Mr Baird said.
The initial $150million will come from the Restart NSW fund, where the proceeds of the lease of the Port of Newcastle and other asset privatisations have been banked.
The remaining funding will come from the roads portfolio.
The money is in addition to $340million promised for light rail in Newcastle’s city centre from the $1.5billion net proceeds of the port lease.
Completion of the section will finish the bypass, which will run from Bennetts Green to Sandgate and has been planned since the 1950s, according to RMS documents.
It will also allow motorists to avoid another 11 sets of traffic lights.
Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell said the commitment was a ‘‘landmark day for my electorate and for the region’’.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the stage would provide relief for surrounding roads, particularly the existing route of Lookout Road, Croudace Street and Newcastle Road.
“We will shortly carry out the environmental assessment and finalise the concept design for this stage of the road,’’ Mr Gay said. “After the [environmental impact statement] is displayed and community feedback is sought, we could see planning approval as early as next year with construction to begin in 2017.”
The new section would entail a grade-separated interchange with Lookout Road and McCaffrey Drive, run behind the hospital with a potential connection at its rear, then connect with the Jesmond-to-Shortland section with another grade-separated interchange.
Mr Baird said the investment in modern infrastructure would ensure the region’s ‘‘full economic potential is unlocked’’.
The preferred route was identified in about 2007. At that time, it was expected about nine properties would need to be acquired. It is believed the government has since bought some.
A route submissions report identified mine subsidence as a major constraint, along with the section’s steeper terrain.
The final stage was rated a ‘‘medium priority’’ in the state government’s regional transport plan but was named the top Hunter priority in the NRMA’s budget submission to government.