THE Hunter’s political leaders are preparing for another letdown in the state budget for the region’s top infrastructure project, the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange.
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser and senior council staff met this week with NSW Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance and Planning Minister Anthony Roberts about the next section of the interchange, the Pennant Street Bridge.
The council wants $13 million in state funds towards the $32 million “shovel-ready” bridge, but discussions with Mr Constance and Mr Roberts left the mayor downplaying hopes for the project in next month’s budget.
“I’m hopeful, but I suspect that we might not see it in this budget,” Cr Fraser said.
“If there’s urgency during the year, it might be funded before the next budget.”
Cr Fraser said Mr Constance gave “a positive hearing”, but asked for more detail about the construction plans.
The interchange was debated in NSW parliament during the week, as the government voted down a notice of motion by Wallsend Labor MP Sonia Hornery calling for it to be funded in the budget.
Ms Hornery told parliament the interchange was “too important to the future of the Hunter to be left unfunded and incomplete”.
But government MPs took turns listing their credentials of investing in the Hunter’s infrastructure, and slamming Labor’s record while in government. Neither Mr Constance nor Mr Roberts rose to speak on the motion.
Ms Hornery’s motion was supported by the Hunter’s six Labor MPs and Lake Macquarie Independent MP Greg Piper.
“When she assumed the premiership earlier this year, Gladys Berejiklian said she wanted to make sure every community got what it needed, not just the mega projects, but the important local ones,” Ms Hornery said.
“But... the Premier proved that these were just meaningless words when her government voted down the number one infrastructure project in the Hunter.”
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington cited the bipartisan political support for the interchange in the Hunter, and its backing from developers, business leaders and the NRMA.
“It’s time the government started showing the Hunter some respect by supporting the projects that we know we need. It’s a no-brainer,” Ms Washington said.
If the council secures funding, it plans to extend Pennant Street in Cardiff over the main northern rail line to the newly-available intersection of Glendale Drive and Stockland Drive in Glendale.
The bridge would create a direct link between Cardiff and Glendale.