Today I joined Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon onsite to inspect progress on the construction of the $1.7 billion Hunter Expressway and had the privilege of being one of the first people to walk across the highest of eight bridges being erected as part of the new road’s Newcastle Interchange.
Almost two years to the day since work started on this massive road project and I’m pleased to report that despite the engineering challenges involved it is running on time and on budget.
When it comes to infrastructure, Federal Labor means and does what it says.
Indeed, the progress that’s been made in a relatively short period of time is a tribute to the expertise and dedication of the contractors and their workers—and there is no better example of the challenges they have had to confront than the bridge I walked over today.
Stretching 155 metres across the F3 and erected using a technique called ‘incremental launching’, each of the bridge’s eight segments were pushed into place by 800 tonne hydraulic jacks. This process began back in April and has only just been completed.
Once completed in 2013, the new Expressway will cut travel times between Newcastle and Branxton by half an hour and take up to 30,000 vehicles a day off the New England Highway and away from the towns of Thornton, Maitland and Rutherford.
It will also stand as a lasting legacy of our highly successful Economic Stimulus Plan.
But importantly, this project is only one part of the unprecedented investment Federal Labor has made in the Hunter since coming to office in late 2007. We have also undertaken the most extensive upgrade of the region’s rail network in generations.
For almost two centuries this region has played a major role in Australia’s extraordinary transformation from a colonial outpost to a modern, prosperous society—and with proper long term planning and the right support from government there’s no reason why its role in our country’s future can’t be just as significant.
All up, infrastructure investment in NSW has more than doubled under Federal Labor from $132 to $265 per person. We’re providing a record $11.6 billion—or a third of our current Nation Building Program—to renew the State’s road and rail infrastructure.