WHILE Singleton and Muswellbrook still await starting dates for their respective bypasses, the same can’t be said in Scone.
Major construction recently began on the two-lane New England Highway detour of the town with the delivery of 27 metre-long concrete bridge girders.
New England MP Barnaby Joyce said it was a historic day for the Scone Bypass, which will deliver jobs, wealth for the regions and, importantly, added safety for motorists.
“This bypass will cut travel times and help build our corridor of commerce on the New England Highway which is providing agricultural producers in the Upper Hunter and around the electorate with a better return through the farm gate,” he said.
“It works hand in glove with other projects we’re supporting around Scone like the recently-opened $2.3 million Middlebrook Bridge replacement and the $11.8 million redevelopment of Scone Regional Livestock Selling Centre, which has also started construction.
“This is a section of road with a patchy safety history, with 26 crashes occurring between 2010 and 2015.
“The four-kilometre section to be bypassed will separate highway and local traffic, providing significant safety benefits and making it safer for all travellers throughout the region.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack said the bypass would ensure Scone and the region continued to thrive.
“Around Australia, the government is investing in making sure people can get home sooner and safer, and the Scone bypass is another part of this nationwide plan,” he explained.
NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said the Scone bypass would help boost productivity.
“It will create a more efficient road network and better freight movement, reducing the number of heavy vehicles using the Kelly Street level crossing and entering town,” she added.
Upper Hunter MP Hunter Michael Johnsen said the bypass would provide an alternative route for motorists wanting to travel across Scone unrestricted – and be particularly important for emergency services.
“Long-haul heavy vehicle operators and other road users will be able to avoid rail crossings during their journeys and emergency services will have an unimpeded path when responding to emergencies west of Scone,” he admitted.
Site access, fencing and environmental controls are currently underway.
Earthworks are expected to start this month and the project should be completed in late 2020, weather permitting.
The Scone Bypass is jointly funded by the Australian and NSW Governments, with the Australian Government contributing $65 million and the NSW Government $72 million.