Works will start this Sunday on the long-awaited upgrade of a notorious Abermain intersection.
Transport for NSW will carry out the work, which includes installing traffic lights and pedestrian crossings at the Cessnock Road and Orange Street intersection, road widening and resurfacing, and improvements at the corner of Charles Street.
The project aims to improve safety, particularly for motorists turning right out of Orange Street and for pedestrians crossing Cessnock Road.
While the road has become busier since the opening of the Hunter Expressway in 2014, the Abermain community has been lobbying for the upgrade for over a decade.
Cessnock MP Clayton Barr is thrilled with the news that the work will begin, saying he has been raising the issue with RMS (now Transport for NSW) regularly throughout his time in office.
"Ten years ago, when I first became an MP, I was quickly made aware of the dangers at the pedestrian crossing right there on the corner of Orange Street and Cessnock Road," he said.
"There were countless stories of car crashes and near-misses for pedestrians. It was described to me that it was 'only a matter of time before someone gets killed'.
Mr Barr paid tribute to a class from Abermain Public School who worked on a special project about the road in 2011.
"I had only been an MP for six months when I got a call to attend a 5/6 class at Abermain Public School to discuss that pedestrian crossing and corner.
"Off the back of that, the students made an incredible poster with photos and explanations of the distractions and dangers that make that whole intersection so unsafe.
"I sent that work through to the roads Roads Minister and asked him to meet with the students. In the end the Minister didn't meet with students but someone from the RMS did.
"Once the Hunter Expressway opened that corner became so much busier and so much more dangerous. A solution was needed more than ever.
"For 10 years I have been raising this issue with RMS (now Transport for NSW) three or four times a year.
"I wasn't going to be silent on a problem that had existed for a long time and continued to exist. And I always wanted to honour those students from Abermain Public School.
"I am absolutely thrilled that the work is finally going to be done to make this section of road so much safer for pedestrians and drivers.
"In the coming months and years, I would hope that those students, who are now in their early twenties, will take pride in their work and their voices that went a long way toward this great result.
"And I thank their teacher at the time, Mrs Kylie Hill, who empowered those young people to have their voices heard by a local politician."
The state and federal governments are providing $3.7 million through the Road Safety Program for the project.
Federal Member for Paterson, Meryl Swanson said she is pleased the funding is being delivered.
"I know that it will provide much relief to the 14,000 motorists that use this vital road every day," she said.
"Federal governments too often neglect regional roads despite them being such an integral part of our regional infrastructure network.
"Regional areas have the highest rate of road fatalities and one of the most significant maintenance backlogs in the country.
"It's imperative that the Federal Government recognises this problem and works to be part of the solution."
Cessnock City Council's director of works and infrastructure David Maloney also welcomed the funding.
"We welcome the works being undertaken by Transport for NSW on this extremely busy road," he said.
"The motorists travelling along this part of Cessnock Road daily will be extremely pleased to see these works underway.
"The traffic lights will improve the safety of all road users at this intersection and compliments the works we completed earlier in the year along Gingers Lane and Government Road."
The works will also involve the minor relocation of a bus stop, the removal of some parking spaces and the creation of new parking spaces.
Transport for NSW advised that it has tried to minimise the loss of parking where possible, however the project requires the removal of 14 parking spaces on the southern side of Cessnock Road due to road widening and one on the northern side of the road.
The small carpark on Charles Street will be removed to make way for a new left-turn lane. Four new spaces will be created on the northern side of the road east of Orange Street.
The work will be conducted between 6.30pm and 4.30am from Sunday to Thursday. Lane closures and a 40km/h speed limit will be in place during work hours and may affect travel times.
Weather permitting, Transport for NSW expects the project to be completed by April 2022.