The April 2015 superstorm might have sealed the fate of Abermain’s Frame Drive bridge, but traffic issues on that road had been ongoing for at least 12 months prior.
Load limits on the bridge were reduced twice in the first six months after the Hunter Expressway opened in March 2014, when Frame Drive became part of a popular shortcut to the expressway’s Loxford interchange.
Cessnock MP Clayton Barr says the State Government was warned before the completion of the Hunter Expressway that Frame Drive would see vastly increased traffic.
Mr Barr and shadow transport and roads minister Jodi McKay inspected the site last Wednesday.
Ms McKay has been travelling around the state to get an understanding of local transport and road issues.
She said it is “extraordinary” the NSW Government hasn’t acted on Frame Drive.
While the Federal Government has provided Cessnock Council with half of the $4 million needed to fix it, the State Government has not provided any funds despite repeated representations from Cessnock Council and Mr Barr.
“Everybody knew that Frame Drive would become a rat run once the Hunter Expressway was built, but the government just refused to listen,” Mr Barr said.
“When the bridge finally fell apart I think the government were the only ones surprised.
“It’s incredible that, having let it get to this point, they now refuse to pitch in to fix it.”
Mr Barr said the intersections with Cessnock Road at Orange Street and Charles Street have long been in need of an upgrade, which he says should include traffic lights.
“The people who work nearby hear screeching tyres and see near-misses every day, yet we can’t even get a simple set of traffic lights to solve the problem,” he said.
Cessnock Council applied to the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund in September for upgrades of road links to the Hunter Expressway – including Frame Drive.
Council estimated it will cost $15.3 million to upgrade Gingers Lane, Frame Drive and Orange Street, Abermain to accommodate the increased traffic demand that has resulted since the expressway opened.
It received $2 million from the Federal Government’s Bridges Renewal Program in January.
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