Michael Johnsen MP adds to Singleton's bypass discussion

EARLIER THIS MONTH: RMS regional manager Anna Zycki and Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen pictured at the opening of the new Gowrie Gates.
EARLIER THIS MONTH: RMS regional manager Anna Zycki and Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen pictured at the opening of the new Gowrie Gates.

FOR those standing on the steps of the Singleton Council Chambers on Wednesday, the announcement of $4.25 million from the NSW Government towards our local roads was a redeeming victory.

Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen proudly stood next to NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro to confirm the allocation of funding (from the NSW Government's $170 million Drought Stimulus Package) less than three months after the pair pleaded their guilt after Singleton was overlooked from the Resources for Regions program for a second straight year.

Yet, Mr Johnsen was still faced with the same question throughout the afternoon.

What about our bypass?

"Today's announcement was funding for local roads which have a high volume of traffic that effectively people use for a rat run to get out of the traffic on the New England Highway," Mr Johnsen told the Singleton Argus just moments after the announcement took place.

"The bypass is going to happen; I have absolutely no doubt about it.

DISCUSSION TIME: Andrew Betts (ARTC's general manager for asset development) speaks to Michael Johnsen MP (Member for the Upper Hunter) at the opening of the Gowrie Gates on Thursday, July 4.

DISCUSSION TIME: Andrew Betts (ARTC's general manager for asset development) speaks to Michael Johnsen MP (Member for the Upper Hunter) at the opening of the Gowrie Gates on Thursday, July 4.

"The state government has committed its $92 million (or 20 per cent share of the total cost) and we're well and truly on our way.

"We're working with council on the LEP (Local Environmental Plans) changes, we are working with landowners and purchasing properties on the preferred route.

"ACOM is doing the concept design and EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) and I do expect within the next two, three or four months that we will be coming out to the community with some more detailed information."

THE ROUTE: Plans for the proposed Singleton bypass released by the Singleton Argus in December, 2016.

THE ROUTE: Plans for the proposed Singleton bypass released by the Singleton Argus in December, 2016.

The discussion was fuelled after yet another motor vehicle accident took place on the New England Highway, at Whittingham, five days earlier.

On this occasion, there were no fatalities.

LASTEST INCIDENT: A Westpac Rescue Helicopter transported a six year old boy from Whittingham to John Hunter Hospital on Friday afternoon after he suffered multiple injuries in a two-vehicle crash on the New England Highway.

LASTEST INCIDENT: A Westpac Rescue Helicopter transported a six year old boy from Whittingham to John Hunter Hospital on Friday afternoon after he suffered multiple injuries in a two-vehicle crash on the New England Highway.

This fact was worth its weight in gold considering the area has witnessed 14 deaths in the past 14 years.

The most recent fatality was a Singleton man, aged 75, who passed away only 22 days prior to Friday's critical incident.

"Just because you don't see the bulldozers it doesn't mean that it isn't happening," Mr Johnsen continued.

"I understand people's frustrations, I get it because I drive in and out of the traffic myself and I get frustrated as well.

"It's also very upsetting when you see accidents happen but you do need a plan for the bulldozers to work too.

"(Put it this way) if you're going to build a house, you don't just lay a dirt platform and put a roof on the ground; you actually build it from under the ground up."

SINGLETON VISIT: Michael Johnsen MP pictured with Singleton Council general manager Jason Linnane and mayor Sue Moore on Wednesday morning.

SINGLETON VISIT: Michael Johnsen MP pictured with Singleton Council general manager Jason Linnane and mayor Sue Moore on Wednesday morning.

Singleton Council general manager Jason Linnane shared Mr Johnsen's optimism for the major project on Wednesday morning when (also) approached moments after the press conference.

"Today means the Deputy Premier is listening and today's announcement says to us we need to keep working on our advocacy and lobbying activities because they do provide dividends," Mr Linnane told the Singleton Argus.

FRIENDLY DISCUSSIONS: Michael Johnsen MP pictured with Singleton Council general manager Jason Linnane ahead of NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro's visit to Singleton.

FRIENDLY DISCUSSIONS: Michael Johnsen MP pictured with Singleton Council general manager Jason Linnane ahead of NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro's visit to Singleton.

"We're committed to our advocacy program and with examples like the Singleton bypass, we have no role in terms of delivering that program but we have an important role in making sure our community's voice is heard on that project.

"There's also a raft of really important issues in our LGA which we need to make sure the people in Macquarie Street are hearing."