Upper Hunter critical freight route to be rebuilt

The Federal Coalition Government and the NSW Government have committed to rebuild MR358 between Merriwa and Willow Tree.

The $48.3 million project to restore this critical livestock freight route will be funded $38.64 million by a re-elected Coalition Government and $9.66 million by the NSW Government.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the stretch of road must be restored to use.

“This important transport link connects the New England Highway to the Golden Highway and the Coalition Government is committed to getting it up and running to have the best supply chain possible for our livestock and other goods,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“Rebuilding this road will better connect our communities, boost local economies and enhance supply chain movement and productivity.

“Only a Coalition Government will provide the infrastructure that regional Australia needs for regions to grow and economies to thrive.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said rebuilding this link is a big win for the local community who have waited more than 12 months to see vital repairs take place.

“Rebuilding this stretch of road not only provides a crucial link for the freight industry, but also creates a safer and more efficient connection for the local community, Mr Farraway said.

“It means trucks will once again come through their towns, stopping in at local cafes and bringing back economic certainty to Merriwa and Willow Tree.

“I welcome the funding from the Federal Government and look forward to working with council to getting shovels in the ground and delivering this project.”

State Member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell said: “The ongoing closure of MR358 is having an immense impact on Upper Hunter communities forcing people to take lengthy journeys because they do not have a direct route between Merriwa and Willow Tree.”

“I thank the Federal Coalition for its commitment because the wait for this road to be repaired and re-opened has placed a strain on the community.”

Upper Hunter Shire Council Mayor Maurice Collison thanked the community for their patience and the state and federal governments for their cooperation in bringing this funding to the community.

“The announcement today of funding for the Willow Tree to Merriwa Road would be greatly appreciated by the community,” Mr Collison said.

“The disruption to the residents and travellers in and through the Upper Hunter and even wider afield has taken its toll”.

“I would like to especially thank Member for New England and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell for their continued support of our community and their tireless efforts to allow this project to be completed.”

Since 2013, the Federal Coalition Government has committed more than $48.5 billion towards infrastructure projects in NSW. $3.3 billion was committed to NSW projects in the 2022-23 Federal Budget which is expected to support approximately 10,000 jobs over the life of the projects.

The delivery of this project will be led by Transport for NSW with preparation of a strategic and financial business case to be prepared under Transport for NSW’s Investment Assurance Framework.

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