ROCKY ROAD: The state government has sought to end a disagreement over funding for the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange by promising money in the budget for a business case for the project.THE state government will complete its own business case for the long-awaited Lake Macquarieinterchangeafter rejecting the council’s request for $13 million for the next stage of the project.
In Tuesday’s budget,nearly $2 million was pledged to “prepare a strategic business case” for the Glendale interchange,“including cost of rail bridge, station and bus interchange”.
By announcing the funding, the government has attempted to calm the waters between the council and Transport for NSW over the cost of the project.
The council had been asking the state and federal governments to each contribute $13million for the next stage, which includes the Pennant Street Bridge, the missinglink between the Glendale retail precinct and Cardiff industrial estate.
The council says a future railway station and bus interchange at Glendale would drive housing developments in the area.
The project has the support of allHunter councils as well asthe region’s MPs.
However, the government disputed Lake council’s costings for the restof the project, and feared a cost blow-out.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said he hoped the $1.7 million business case would put a stop to the“finger-pointing” and“negative cycle” between various parties.
“Lake Macquarie had done their own [costings] but it just wasn’t supported by the department of transport,” Mr MacDonald said. “It’s not a lot of money, but it does mean Transport and Lake Macquarie council are working very closely now.”
Independent Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper welcomed the funding but said it didn’t go far enough.
“If the government was serious about driving the economy in the Lower Hunter we would have seen significant capital works funding for projects such as the planned Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange and Pennant Street Bridge,” he said.
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser saidthe business case was an“essential step” in receiving more funding.
“This infrastructure project has the potential to establish Glendale as a new employment super-hub and regional transport interchange, and aligns with afuture expansion of the light rail network beyond the Newcastle CBD to Glendale,” she said.
Meanwhile, Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison said she was “deeply concerned”about a lack of funding forupgrades of Hillsborough Road, which had been campaigned for after the death of teenager Jade Frith.
However, Mr MacDonald said Roads and Maritime Services had confirmed to him that it wascommitted to a new intersection with traffic signals on Hillsborough Road.