Roads and Maritime Services has said its preferred option to upgrade Testers Hollow is solely about flood protection, while urging the community to provide feedback on the plan.
A review of environmental factors for the proposed upgrade of Cessnock Road - which has flooded several times in recent years - is on now display for public comment.
RMS has identified a new route to the west of Cessnock Road, 1.5 metres higher than the current thoroughfare, as its preferred option for the upgrade.
The option would provide one-in-20-year flood immunity - an improvement on the current one-in-five-year immunity.
Three higher standards were listed in the review of environmental factors - up to one-in-100-year flood protection. But Transport for NSW Hunter regional director Anna Zycki said that a lot of roads were now built to a one-in-20-year standard.
She said it was the option that could be delivered with the least disruptive impacts to the community and environment and was within the allocated budget of $17 million.
"We're aiming to achieve the typical standard for the road environment," she said. "Other state roads meet that standard."
The preferred option also includes one lane in each direction, which some on social media have objected to due to high growth in the area. But Ms Zycki said the project was not about catering for growth, only improving flood immunity.
"Our intention is to address flooding," she said. "We didn't look at providing additional lanes.
"We have done traffic studies. Should the demand demonstrate it's needed, we can add additional lanes at a later date. But this project is about flooding."
The new road will be constructed offline, meaning drivers can still use the old road while works take place.
Ms Zycki said while that will mean minimal impacts compared to construction under live traffic, she wanted to hear from the public about other possible effects of the work.
"The community can tell us important bits of local knowledge, such as the impact on their properties during construction," she said. "Things like noise, if they want night work or faster progression.
"We know how sensitive our work can be. The input is really important to us."
Once the feedback period closes on September 17, Ms Zycki said RMS would consider all suggestions and feed the useful ones into the project. A final design will then be adopted before work kicks off, which is slated for mid-2020 and will take about two years.
Cessnock MP Clayton Barr was pleased to see the plans go on public display, as it means the upgrade is one step closer.
"The road improvements have been a long time coming and important for all residents in the Kurri Kurri-Cessnock areas who regularly use the road," he said.
"We are one step further in the process to getting the road upgraded."
To view the plan and have your say, visit rms.work/testershollow.