Mayor of Singleton, Cr Sue Moore says she will refuse to settle for a second-best bypass of the New England Highway for Singleton, citing critical issues including the single lane design and access to the Town Centre.
After a thorough review of the Submissions Report by Transport for NSW in relation to the bypass, issued on August 10, Cr Moore said she was disappointed with the responses to the two biggest concerns raised by Council and the community.
- that Putty Road should be a full interchange to allow all motorists, but particularly service vehicles, access to and from the Town Centre from the bypass; and
- the need for two lanes in both directions along the length of the bypass to ensure the road operates at satisfactory levels of service now and into the future.
The route also has implications for Council's historical Water Works Lane depot, which houses critical assets as the main connection for the supply of water to downtown Singleton as well as Mt Thorley, Broke and Whittingham.
Council's position for a full interchange would also better serve a relocated standpipe that would be required to make way for the road.
"I am whole-heartedly supportive of the concept of the Singleton bypass and the importance of this vital piece of infrastructure to our community, but we only get one chance to get it right," Cr Moore said.
"It is vital that any bypass of Singleton includes ease of access for all traffic to quickly, easily and safely turn off into the Singleton Town Centre.
"Transport for NSW maintains that motorists can access the Town Centre from Newcastle by the existing New England Highway route, and those coming from the north can use the proposed Putty Road half interchange. However, Council's position is that travelers in both directions should have the option to pull into the Town Centre while they are on the bypass.
"We should also be planning for the long-term now with two lanes in both directions to cope with anticipated traffic volumes and to provide adequate space for vehicles to negotiate obstructions such as a broken down vehicle.
"I do not want to see the people of Singleton ripped off with a second-rate option that threatens economic opportunities for the Singleton Town Centre and will require a new advocacy campaign later on to expand the road to double lanes.
"I will be taking this matter to the Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen MP, and as far as I need to in order to ensure our community gets the bypass they deserve."
Transport for NSW indicated they would progress with other matters raised in Council's submission, including further consideration of a less confusing layout of the Gowrie Gates interchange and intended operation of the Putty Road and Waterworks Lane intersection.
In addition, Transport for NSW would undertake additional analysis considering socio economic impacts, including but not limited to emergency access, community connectedness, the Singleton CBD and tourism.
Council also requested to be fully involved in the traffic management planning for construction, with appropriate conditions in place to minimise the impact on the community.
General Manager Jason Linnane said Council staff are preparing a response to the Submissions Report to raise the disappointment with Transport for NSW's position on the Putty Road interchange and single lane design.
"Council's focus is to represent the interests of our community, and these were significant issues that were raised in Council's submission and by the people of Singleton," he said.
"We are also concerned about the impacts on the Water Works Lane depot, and the implications not only to relocate vital infrastructure for the supply of water, but to ensure ease of access for our crews and customers, and continuity of supply.
"We maintain the view that as the project stands, it will result in a deficient outcome for our community in terms of economic and safety impacts that have been reinforced by the Police.
"We will be making our case again in writing to Transport for NSW in hope there will be a reconsideration of those factors that make this a poor result for everyone who currently uses the New England Highway and will use the bypass."