Labor announced election promise $10 million to fix Testers Hollow

Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore, state MP Jenny Aitchison and Cessnock Mayor Bob Pynsent with Labor's candidate for Paterson Meryl Swanson and Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon and Darrin Gray at Testers Hollow.
Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore, state MP Jenny Aitchison and Cessnock Mayor Bob Pynsent with Labor's candidate for Paterson Meryl Swanson and Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon and Darrin Gray at Testers Hollow.

Labor has announced an election promise of $10 million to raise Cessnock Road at Testers Hollow, to stop flood problems that have been ongoing for decades.

Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon and candidate for Paterson Meryl Swanson announced the plan on Saturday.

It came after a scheduled announcement last month was postponed when Labor leader Bill Shortens car was involved in a crash at Testers Hollow as he was arriving for a press conference.

Community members have been calling for the road to be fixed for many years, but those calls have ramped up since last years April super storm, which left Cessnock Road cut for about a week.

The road was blocked by floodwater for a similar length of time in January, following a severe storm.

Ms Swanson said $10 million was a good start in getting the road fixed, but more money would be needed.

She said the state government needed to get on board for the upgrades to take place.

This issue has been going on for too long, Ms Swanson said.

Ive been talking to people on both sides of Testers who just want the road fixed and Labor has committed to getting that underway with this announcement.

In this day and age, entire communities shouldnt be cut off and inconvenienced as they are here and Im committed to working on this solution. I hope the state government shows commitment to this as it is a state road and our local councils are in agreement that it should be a priority.

A joint statement from Ms Swanson and Mr Fitzgibbon on Saturday said that Labor would work with the state government, as well as Maitland and Cessnock councils, to identify and obtain the necessary funding for the critical works.

This infrastructure upgrade is essential to maintain access for local residents and visitors to the Hunter region during the floods, the statement said. A permanent solution is long overdue.

Media archives show that flooding on the road at Testers Hollow has been disruptive for at least 89 years, with newspaper reports from the Hunter from as early as 1927 detailing occasions the road was cut by floodwater.

The road has been subject to a 50 per cent increase in traffic since the Hunter Expressway opened in 2014.

But the state road authority, Roads and Maritime Service, does not have any plans in motion to upgrade the road.

Fairfax Media reported previously that RMS investigated the feasibility of possible upgrades in late 2013, but the investigation found that any solution to the flood problem would be complex.

This story Labor promises $10 million to fix Testers Hollow first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.

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