Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams has slammed the Australian Government's decision to scrap funding for an Oxley Highway intersection upgrade.
Plans for intersection upgrades at Wrights Road and Lake Road have been axed after the federal government announced on Thursday, November 16, it is one of 17 NSW projects to lose funding.
The Albanese government committed to fund $4 million to plan upgrades to the well-known traffic choke points in the 2023-24 budget. The NSW government were to fund the remaining $1 million.
After releasing a national review of infrastructure, the federal government found the project was amongst those "that do not demonstrate merit, lack any national strategic rationale and do not meet the government's national investment priorities".
Mrs Williams said the announcement is a slap in the face to local commuters.
"The decision to cut funding for the ongoing planning of this important arterial road (is) nothing short of irresponsible and negligent," she said.
The Port Macquarie MP criticised the NSW Minister for Roads Jenny Aitchison, saying her pleas for increased funding had "fallen on deaf ears."
"What did she do to ensure that this funding stayed on the table for this project?" she said.
"She is the Labor NSW Regional Roads Minister and it would just belie belief that her federal Labor colleagues would not consult with her about what projects should be a priority.
"If she really believes this is a priority project, because that's certainly what she indicated the last time she visited Port Macquarie in June this year at my invitation, she needs to find the money from the New South Wales roads budget."
A spokesperson for the minister responded to Mrs Williams' comments by saying the roads are in a state of ruin due to 12 years of neglect from the previous government.
"Leslie Williams and the Liberals and Nationals had 12 long years to deal with the mess she is now demanding the new Labor government clean up after eight months in office," the spokesperson said.
"We have provided $3.4 million to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council through our new Regional Emergency Road Repair Fund.
"We are carefully considering the impacts of the Australian Government's decision regarding funding of planning work for stage 2 of the Oxley Highway upgrade."
The planning project now faces little chance of survival. In mid-2021 Transport for NSW put forward concept options with proposed improvements across a 9.5 kilometre stretch of the highway.
Hundreds of community submissions were received in response to the improvement plans.
In June, the organisation's regional director Anna Zycki said traffic counts have been conducted at Lake Road and Houston Mitchell Drive intersections.
"We're pulling that information together so we better understand what is happening at both intersections," she said.
Oxley MP Michael Kemp voiced the concerns of his electorate, with commuters travelling from Wauchope into Port Macquarie often facing peak hour congestion.
"I call on the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads to stand up to her federal Labor colleagues and lobby for this funding for planning of this critical upgrade to be reinstated," he said.
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