After 18 months of planning, discussions and meetings, the key players involved in the Bucketts Way Route Access Strategy Program were rewarded with a funding commitment from the NSW Government.
MidCoast Council (former Gloucester Shire Council and Great Lakes Council) and Port Stephens Council were unsuccessful in the second round of the Fixing Country Roads funding released in June 2016, however that was rectified in a recent announcement.
The funding application outlined that the three stage project would cost $19.1 million; requesting $16.7 million in grant funding with the additional $2.4 million from council.
The strategy outlines a range of upgrades, including road geometry corrections, new pavement and passing lanes, listed in priority order, from the Pacific Highway to Gloucester.
On Monday, May 8 Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey and Member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen announced the strategy will receive $8.3 million.
“Fantastic news,” was the response from Advance Gloucester.
“It is great to see something come to fruition that we have worked tirelessly for over the past 18 months,” Advance Gloucester deputy chair Rod Williams said.
A sentiment echoed by Gloucester Business Chamber.
“It’s a significant start to the upgrading of the Bucketts Way,” Gloucester Business Chamber president, Stuart Redman said.
Both groups have thanked AGL and Gloucester Resources Limited (GRL) for providing Brett Peterkin to help develop the strategy.
“Without Brett’s guidance and persistence, we would not be in this position,” Mr Williams said.
“MidCoast Council and Port Stephens Council also need to be congratulated on their efforts in securing funding,” Mr Williams said.
“The project has the support of State bodies such as the NRMA and Livestock Bulk and Rural Carriers Association (LBRCA),” Mr Redman said.
“This project is an example of what can be achieved when community, government and industry work together to achieve a better outcome for NSW businesses and communities, which are reliant on efficient and safe road freight services,” LBRCA past president, Jock Carter said.
As outlined in the strategy, additional funding is still be sought from the federal government.
“It is now time for the Federal Government to provide its share of funding – especially given the Bucketts Way is a designated detour to the Pacific Highway when closed due to emergency situations of major accident or bushfire,” Mr Williams said.