The Lower Hunter Freight Corridor which would bypass Newcastle between Fassifern and Hexham has the potential to do much more than ease traffic congestion and remove heavy rail from the city, and the NSW Government is being urged not to squander the opportunity.
With the consultation period coming to an end today, Newcastle Council have submitted a detailed response on the recommended route and made it clear the game changing project needs to work in tandem with the Hunter’s key industries.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes says its crucial the future alignment of the corridor responds to the region’s needs over the long term, particularly in servicing the Port of Newcastle and the emerging Black Hill industrial precinct.
“Both have been identified as catalyst areas in the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, with the Port recognised as a global gateway, providing international freight connections,” Cr Nelmes said.
Council is also seeking assurances the reservation of land for the corridor will not increase the price tag or curtail plans for other key projects including the proposed extension of the M1 to Raymond Terrace, the Black Hill precinct, or the Richmond Vale Rail Trail.
The submission calls for an integrated approach to the planning and delivery of the freight corridor, which is at best at least a decade away.
But despite the leisurely timeline, Newcastle Council is urging the State Government not to sit on its hands and instead review key environmental, noise and heritage issues now, rather than leaving them until the detailed design phase.
While the end of the line for the Lower Hunter Freight Corridor might still be a long way off, so far the early consultation shows Council and the community are eager for the project to be running full steam ahead.