Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent has labelled Roads and Maritime Services' preferred option for the Testers Hollow upgrade as "short-sighted", saying a four-lane road should be built to help ease traffic congestion as well as flooding issues.
RMS has identified a two-lane road as its preferred option for the upgrade in its review of environmental factors, which is currently on display for public comment.
Testers Hollow flooded four times between June 2007 and January 2016, closing the main road between Cessnock and Maitland for several days each time.
In April 2017 the federal government committed $15 million for the work, while the NSW Government announced it will contribute $2 million.
RMS put its review of environmental factors for the project on public display last month, and Transport for NSW Hunter regional director Anna Zycki told Australian Community Media its preferred option is "solely about flood protection".
In a mayoral minute to Wednesday's council meeting, Cr Pynsent said the growing population on either side of the hollow, and consequent increase in traffic on Cessnock Road, should be taken into account when the project's design is finalised.
"It's been a fair while since the April 2015 flood, we've waited this long for RMS to take action in regards to the flooding works," he said.
"But the issues that we're having on Main Road, Heddon Greta - from Maitland train station through to the Hunter Expressway - is all about traffic congestion, and to me it just seems so short-sighted that the crossing only be made two lanes.
"If they are going to send a workforce in there, the crossing should be made four lanes."
Cr Pynsent said the increase in population in the vicinity of Testers Hollow - including Heddon Greta, Cliftleigh and Gillieston Heights - has been quite significant.
"In a drought it's fairly easy to forget the storms in 2007 and 2015, and the ramifications on both the Cessnock side and the Maitland side," he said.
"The effect of flooding in the future would be catastrophic for the movements of all those residents between Maitland and the Hunter Expressway.
"Anna Zycki stated that this was all about flooding, but at certain times you've got to take the blinkers off and look to the future.
"A four-lane road is certainly the way to go with the increase in population across that precinct."
The mayoral minute, which was unanimously supported, asked council to make a submission to RMS' review of environmental factors for the Testers Hollow project, outlining that while it supports the flood mitigation works in principle, its preferred position is to build a four-lane road.
The review is now open for public comment 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.
Also at last week's meeting, council supported a notice of motion by Cr John Fagg to write to RMS in support of community requests to review the speed limit on Palmers Lane, Pokolbin from 80km/h to 60km/h.
Read more: Call to reduce speed limit