Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to seek more NSW Government funding for Ocean Drive project

Waiting game: Motorists face congestion during peak times on Ocean Drive at Port Macquarie. Photo: Ivan Sajko
Waiting game: Motorists face congestion during peak times on Ocean Drive at Port Macquarie. Photo: Ivan Sajko

A further $52 million is needed to construct the long-awaited Ocean Drive duplication project.

The 3.4 kilometre upgrade to the busy road is planned and costed.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council estimates it will cost $60 million to construct the Ocean Drive duplication between Greenmeadows Drive (south) and Emerald Drive.

The council will write to Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams and NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey seeking a funding commitment to progress the project to construction.

In 2013, the state government provided a $10 million commitment to the council to fund the project’s design and construction.

Some $1.83 million was spent on the design and pre-construction approvals, as of July 2017.

The balance of the $10 million allocation is available for construction but more funds are needed due to the project’s complexity.

Cr Justin Levido spoke about the history of the project.

”We have a completely planned, costed project,” he said.

Cr Levido said the project cost was beyond the council’s ability to pay for the construction on its own.

“We are going back to the state government with our costing, with our plan and asking for whatever assistance the state government can give in getting that duplication done,” Cr Levido said.

It is expected the construction would take about two years to complete after the funding is confirmed.

Cr Levido said the council should be congratulated on the community engagement.

The final engagement sessions were in May.

The council report said although some community members remained opposed to the upgrade, the majority of community feedback was positive with most asking why construction had not been confirmed.

Cr Levido said the public generally was waiting with bated breath to see if the money could be found to enable the project to proceed.

A steering group has provided project governance to project staff.

The council has endorsed the conversion of that steering group to the Regional Transport Infrastructure Steering Group.

The focus will initially be on the Ocean Drive duplication, the orbital road, Boundary Street, Hastings River Drive, Lake Road upgrade and the Ocean Drive transport corridor, together with any further projects referred to the steering group by council from time to time.

Cr Levido said it was incredibly important to now focus on a coordinated approach to delivery, rather an a piecemeal approach.

Cr Rob Turner said the council needed to look at a funding model that would deliver the project.

Mayor Peta Pinson said Ocean Drive had taken far too long to get to this point.

“I think we need to enter into formal discussions around funding and move towards commencement of construction of the duplication from basically Matthew Flinders Drive to Greenmeadows Drive,” she said.

“The discussion around Ocean Drive and the added discussion around linking our road network was probably one of the most important items on the [meeting] agenda, in my view,” she said.

Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams said the state government, from the Premier down, was aware of this project and its current status.

“Whilst it isn’t a state road, I will continue to lobby and advocate for additional funding,” she said.

Mrs Williams said at the end of the day, there needed to be some financial commitment from the council to the Ocean Drive project.

“I think a request would have more impact if there was some financial commitment from council for this project,” Mrs Williams said.