NSW Government announces road upgrade for Testers Hollow

Testers Hollow after the January 2016 storm.
Testers Hollow after the January 2016 storm.

Work to raise the road at Testers Hollow will begin next year.

The federal government has confirmed that early work to flood proof Cessnock Road will begin in mid 2018, with construction to start in 2019.

Cessnock Road at Testers Hollow has been the subject of a long running community campaign to flood proof the stretch of road, which has been inundated by water multiple times in recent years.

Most recently, it was cut for several days in April 2015 and in January 2016.

The federal government will provide $15 million for the work, while the NSW Government will chip in $2 million.

Federal Paterson MP Meryl Swanson welcomed the announcement but criticised the state government for the size of its contribution.

“The Liberals were forced into an election promise of $15million after Labor committed to raising the road at Tester’s Hollow during last year’s election campaign," she said.

“But all we’ve seen from the state is spin and a meagre $2 million.

“It remains to be seen whether that will be adequate to raise the road to make a significant difference, but at least it is a first step.

“After the rain we’ve had recently, I know our community will be relieved to hear that something is finally happening after all these years.”

Federal Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester announced the upgrades in a statement on Wednesday morning.

“Flooding at Testers Hollow has a big impact on local communities, so we are working on a project to raise and realign Cessnock Road to ensure communities stay connected to jobs, schools and emergency services at all times,” Mr Chester said.

“We are working with the NSW Government to see this road upgraded in the most effective way possible and look forward to receiving a proposal in coming weeks on how this joint commitment can be used to progress the project.”

NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said further planning and design steps would be taken before work could start.

“We understand the impact of road closures on local communities in terms of longer commutes and isolation from essential services, and it's an issue I am keen to see addressed soon,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Further studies are required to ensure that the solution to the flood problem at Testers Hollow does not negatively impact surrounding areas and our joint funding commitment will be used to refine previous flood modelling and carry out important geotechnical and survey work to finalise the preferred option.

“Once this is complete we can then undertake the work. Early works should start in mid-2018 with construction expected to start in 2019.”

State Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison said the news was “a win for the community”. 

She said the result was a positive example of how different levels of government could work together.

“It’s disappointing, however, to see that the Berejiklian-Barilaro state Liberal-National government, which has millions to spend on congestion reduction projects in Sydney, has contributed only a paltry $2 million to stop whole communities being cut off regularly by floods in the regions,” she said.

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This story Work to raise road at Testers Hollow will start next year | PHOTOS first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.