The NSW government will attempt to repair the damage of a broken promise to fund key upgrades to Nelson Bay Road when it includes $8.3 million for the project in Tuesday’s budget.
Former premier Mike Baird promised 10 days before the 2015 election to spend $70 million on duplicating parts of the road before 2019.
Fairfax Media reported in March that an internal Roads and Maritime Services document from late 2016 showed that only a tiny fraction of the money, $226,000, would be spent before 2020-21.
But the government, nine months out from the next state election on March 23, has found $8.3 million to get the ball rolling this financial year.
The road funding was among a selection of half a dozen Hunter projects detailed in a pre-budget briefing to the Herald on Monday.
Others included $110 million already committed to finish the Newcastle light-rail line, $2.771 million to refurbish and upgrade the Hunter Street TAFE campus and $1.418 million for a customer services and industry development centre at the Tighes Hill TAFE campus.
The government will also allocate $23 million next financial year towards building the new $470 million Maitland Hospital and $6 million to prepare a business plan for faster trains from Newcastle to Sydney.
The Herald reported in March that NSW had also won a share of $20 million federal funding to help prepare a business case for cutting the train journey from three hours to two.
The business plan, and two others for rail projects in Brisbane and Melbourne, will go to Infrastructure Australia, an independent statutory body which assesses major infrastructure projects.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s government has announced a handful of projects for the Hunter in the past three weeks, including a $13.5 million police station for Cessnock, a new school and education precinct in Newcastle, upgrades for Nulkaba and Ashtonfield primary schools, and a new Service NSW centre for Toronto.
Extending the 2.7km light rail line into the suburbs is among a long list of funding priorities Newcastle City Council has sent the government.
The wish list includes a Wickham ferry terminal, a new art gallery, a $250 rate rebate for pensioners, mandated affordable housing, and speeding up a Transport for NSW feasibility study on the proposed Lower Hunter freight rail corridor between Fassifern and Hexham.
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp endorsed those priorities on Monday and added a permanent fix for Stockton beach erosion.
Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison said she would like to see money spent on fixing Hillsborough Road to reduce traffic congestion and make it safer for pedestrians. She also said social housing was a key issue in an electorate with a long waiting list for accommodation.
Ms Harrison, Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery and Lake Macquarie’s Greg Piper said funding for a long-awaited Glendale transport interchange should be a priority for state and federal government.
“The interchange remains the number one infrastructure project in the Hunter but as yet remains unfunded,” Ms Hornery said on Monday.
Mr Piper said he was pleased the government had already agreed to fund new lifts for Wyee train station and spend an additional $10 million on extending sewer services at Wyee, but he said better public transport and road upgrades around Argenton and Boolaroo were also a priority, along with equitable access to palliative care in his electorate.
Swansea MP Yasmin Catley hoped for a permanent dredge for Swansea Channel, a new Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie radio base at Swansea, upgrading Carters Road at Lake Munmorah and extending the Fernleigh Track from Belmont to Swansea.
“The projects that I have earmarked for the premier are modest and achievable for the government and will improve infrastructure and services to many people in the Swansea electorate and will have broader impacts for people living right around Lake Macquarie and on the Central Coast,” Ms Catley said.