There is but one issue that is constantly raised with me in the Dapto and West Dapto areas – traffic and congestion.
West Dapto is developing into a major metropolitan suburb.
Over the next 20 years I expect that as growth in the area continues, the Dapto and West Dapto areas will contain a population catchment that will require its very own electorate.
The eastern side of Dapto separated by the F6 Freeway is now mainly an established suburb.
The Dapto CBD is modernising. West Dapto is continuing its growth spurt.
Very shortly a series of villages will be developed toward the very western edge of Horsley and across Kembla Grange.
The influx of new housing and businesses will place even more pressure on Dapto CBD and West Dapto’s existing local road network.
The former NSW Labor Government provided Wollongong City Council with a $26.1 million interest-free loan in January 2010 under the NSW Local Infrastructure Fund.
The infrastructure funding has been used by Wollongong City Council to upgrade existing local roads and to build new road links.
For so long much of the community debate in Dapto and West Dapto has been stuck around Bong Bong Road and the notorious Fowlers Road bridge.
In my view, the council was wrong to have shelved the Fowlers Road bridge option. It was the wrong call from the council’s administrators.
Abandoning the project has made the task of developing the rest of West Dapto much harder as the local community is very cynical about the infrastructure promises of the council.
Despite this council has used the $26.1 million grant and an additional $14 million in Commonwealth funds to establish a local road network of choice for the residents of West Dapto.
Under the expanded local road network, works will transform West Dapto Road, Shone Avenue, extend Fairwater Drive, connecting it to Cleveland Road, and extending Cleveland Road to the Princes Highway.
The overall objective of these road network improvements is to ‘flood proof’ traffic access to West Dapto in the event of substantial and sustained rain events.
And at the same time provide a road network of choice for local residents to use instead of concentrating all traffic movement on the one trunk of Bong Bong Road.
I’m not convinced that many of the residents of West Dapto are aware of the improvements that have been made and continue to be made to the local road network.
But more needs to be done.
It is time for example to begin thinking about relocating the existing Dapto station.
Dapto station has been there since 1887.
It is old and does not meet the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.
In addition, its current location on Bong Bong Road substantially compromises any attempts to fix the massive congestion problems facing this major thoroughfare whenever a train goes to the north or south.
The Dapto CBD can also be relieved of traffic pressure by adding on-and-off ramps at Kanahooka Road, Fowlers Road and Emerson Road.
Anna Watson MP is the State Member for Shellharbour