Merriwa-Willow Tree Road Repair Ready To Go After Federal Funding Confirmed

Dave Layzell MP, Upper Hunter Mayor Cr Maurice Collison and GM Greg McDonald inspect the road damage in July 2021 | Supplied

Funding has been locked in by the Federal Government to fix an important agriculture freight route through the Upper Hunter.

Coulsons Creek Road between Merriwa and Willow Tree has been shut since January 2021 after a botched upgrade and landslips, forcing locals on a 45-kilometre detour.

After last year’s budget, $38.6 million in Commonwealth cash was promised for the re-build with the NSW Government chipping in nearly $10 million too.

The project’s future became far from certain earlier this year though, when it came under the scope of a 90-day federal infrastructure pipeline review causing further delays.

The review, led by Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, was initiated to ensure the government’s $120 billion, 10-year infrastructure investment was allocated to projects that enhance long-term productivity, economic growth, and regional development.

Upper Hunter Shire Council lobbied hard, arguing the project fulfilled all the criteria for funding under the infrastructure pipeline, including enhancing long-term productivity, supply chains, and economic growth.

On Wednesday, Council announced that the Federal Government had confirmed the release of funds for construction on the long-awaited new road.

“We are ready to hit the ground running,” said Upper Hunter Shire Council Mayor Maurice Collison.

“Thanks to the early planning and diligent work by our team, we’ve managed to realise savings in both time and money. We’re grateful the Federal Government has recognised the importance of this project and the hard work put in by all involved.”

Mayor Collison added the project has long been seen as vital for connecting the communities of Merriwa and Willow Tree, serving as a significant economic driver and a crucial livestock freight route.

“This funding is not just an investment in infrastructure; it’s an investment in the future of our communities. We have waited long enough, and it’s heartening to see our efforts finally come to fruition”

“We look forward to promptly commencing construction and delivering this vital project for the benefit of all in the Upper Hunter and beyond.”

State MP Dave Layzell echoed that sentiment and said it was a big win for all involved.

“Great news for all those who have worked so hard on this issue including Upper Hunter Shire Council who have maintained pressure on all levels of Government and are in a strong position for the work to proceed.”