No matter how governments decide to spend money, there will usually be arguments about why certain projects or initiatives have been given priority over others.
Since the April superstorm, questions have ramped up over the state government’s decision to sink about $50 million into an eastbound overpass to ease traffic congestion on the New England Highway near the Maitland railway station roundabout.
It was felt that so much money being spent to address the traffic issue would be welcome news to those who endure the daily commute and are often stuck in the frequent snarls that occur at the location.
But some, including the NSW opposition, have criticised the decision to build the overpass because it would be rendered useless if the highway is cut by floodwater – as it was in April.
The latest closure caused a week of gridlock in Maitland and came only eight years after the previous flood-induced road cut.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, and new disaster recovery co-ordinator, Scot MacDonald defended the government’s decision to address daily traffic congestion problems over flooding issues, which could be a problem every five to 10 years.
However, that is little solace for those who spent hours sitting in gridlock in April because the highway had not been built high enough.
The overpass will make life easier for many daily road commuters, which is a real positive, but will do little for those who need to travel between Maitland’s east and west during the next major flood.
That’s not to mention the pressing need for flood-proofing on sections of Cessnock Road, particularly at Testers Hollow.
Hopefully, the long awaited overpass is a substantial start to an ongoing investment in Maitland’s roads and that flood-proofing is high on the list of priorities.
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