Newcastle pollies are pushing for new ferry terminals at Wickham and north Stockton, but one Topics reader has gone a step further and suggested a fast ferry to and from Hexham.
Davos Seaworth, who has a background in maritime transport, says the state government should look at a ferry wharf just east of Hexham Bridge to take commuters from the Maitland and Raymond Terrace areas into town.
He says the trip would take about 20 minutes in a vessel similar to the Sydney rivercats.
The route would require two boats running every half-hour, a new Hexham terminal and a large, free car park. The Sydney rivercats can carry 230 people.
Davos assured Topics the river at Hexham already had the depth to berth ferries as it accommodated the “sixty-miler” coal ships until 30 years ago and the passage to Newcastle was already laid out with navigation buoys for commercial shipping.
The service would run to Queens Wharf but also could help improve passenger numbers at the proposed Wickham ferry stop. It would take cars off a busy stretch of Maitland road and ease parking woes in the CBD.
“You could keep 1000 cars out of Newcastle every day,” Davos said while scanning the horizon wistfully. “We could be using the river and harbour more than we are.”
He has presented his plan to Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Port Stephens MP Kate Washington and local transport types.
Maitland has a half-hour train into Wickham, but Ms Washington said Raymond Terrace could do with more transport choices.
“It might help connect that community better. I quite like it, but I have no idea whether it’s viable,” she said.
Cr Nelmes told Topics she wanted to focus on Wickham and north Stockton before the Hexham option.
“New ferry stops should look to capture passengers from Newcastle Airport and the rapidly expanding suburbs north of the Hunter River,” she said.
Another Topics contact has pointed out an interesting side note to Newcastle City Council’s impending move to new offices in the west end.
The council used to own the land at 12 Stewart Avenue on which the $20 million second stage of the Gateway office development is now rising from the ground.
The council plans a $7 million move next year into the south wing of Gateway 2 on a 15-year lease.
According to pricefinder.com, the council paid $70,000 for 12-14 Stewart Avenue in 1987 before selling it off a few years later. The land, plus some adjoining blocks, has been subdivided and consolidated on and off over the past 25 years before landing in the portfolio of developers Spartohori.
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