Roads and Maritime Services identifies preferred option identified for flood-prone Cessnock Road Testers Hollow upgrade

UPGRADE: Testers Hollow in April 2015, when flooding blocked the road for more than two weeks.
UPGRADE: Testers Hollow in April 2015, when flooding blocked the road for more than two weeks.

Roads and Maritime Services has identified a preferred option to upgrade Testers Hollow in a review now on display for public comment.

RMS carried out a route option study in February 2018 after the Federal Government committed $15 million and the State Government $2 million to upgrade flood-prone Cessnock Road.

The options identified from the study were a new route to the west of the existing road, a new route to the east, and construction of a new road two metres above the existing level. A "do nothing" option was also listed.

The preferred option is the western route, which would split off the existing road at the Heddon Greta end, about 150 metres before the Avery Lane intersection.

It would run parallel to the existing road on the western side for several hundred metres before connecting back to Cessnock Road.

RMS said the western route was preferred as it had reduced costs, risks, utility and traffic impacts than the other two options and can be built away from live traffic, unlike the existing route option.

Four designs were then identified for the western route, which provide different levels of flood immunity improvement.

The options include a new road 1.5 metres above the existing height of Cessnock Road, providing five per cent Annual Exceedance Probability (one in 20 chance of being exceeded in any year); a road 2.2 metres higher, providing between five and two per cent AEP; a road 3.2 metres higher, providing two per cent AEP and a road 5.2 metres higher, providing one percent AEP.

The first option (1.5 metres higher providing five per cent AEP) was recommended at a workshop held in May 2018, which was attended by Cessnock and Maitland City Council, RMS representatives and engineering and environmental representatives.

Factors considered in regards to the designs were flood immunity improvement, road maintenance cost reduction, environmental impact minimisation and cost and available funding.

"Option 1 was adopted as it provides the greatest flood immunity possible with the available funding," RMS said in the review.

Testers Hollow is a busy access point to and from the Hunter Expressway.

Testers Hollow is a busy access point to and from the Hunter Expressway.

"It is the easiest option to build, requires the least acquisition, and has the least environmental impact."

The review is now open for public comment. It can be found online at rms.work/testershollow and at Maitland and Cessnock City Council administration buildings.

Submissions should be emailed to TestersHollow@rms.nsw.gov.au or posted to Roads and Maritime Services, Testers Hollow Project Team, Locked Bag 2030, Newcastle NSW 2300.

Submissions close 5pm on September 17.

What happens next?

RMS will consider the submissions received during the public display and then determine whether or not the proposal should proceed as proposed.

If the proposal is determined to proceed, Roads and Maritime will continue to consult with the community and stakeholders prior to and during construction.

More coverage

This story RMS reveals preferred option for Testers Hollow upgrade first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.