$1m Albion Park bypass study a ‘waste’

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson says a study commissioned by the NSW government into the Albion Park Rail bypass is ‘‘an expensive embarrassment’’.

On Monday the government announced  a review of an existing corridor linking Yallah to Oak Flats – last confirmed as the route for the bypass in 1996 – remained suitable and would be used for the bypass.

Ms Watson said the study, which Roads and Maritime Services officials are scheduled to brief her about on Friday, essentially reconfirmed the existing road route set nearly 20 years ago.

POLL: Albion Park Rail bypass plan 'ready to go'

 ‘‘I had assumed that the reason the minister was taking so long in finalising the study was because an alternative road route was being scoped and designed,’’ Ms Watson said.

 ‘‘But to have the existing 20-year road route reconfirmed after nearly two years and after spending $1.1 million is simply astounding and truly embarrassing for the minister and [Kiama MP Gareth] Ward.

 ‘‘I welcome the opportunity for the local community to have its say in the consultation process.

 ‘‘But the fact that it’s taken two years and $1.1 million to simply reconfirm a road route set aside nearly 20 years ago will only leave many in the local community shaking their heads at the waste of this whole exercise.

  ‘‘Perhaps the minister and Mr Ward can set aside a few million dollars now to also reinvent the wheel.’’

Mr Ward said Ms Watson’s claims were ‘‘false, erroneous and untrue’’.

‘‘Just over half of the money was used for this initial review and another $480,000 remains for ongoing studies,’’ he said.

‘‘Traffic problems at Albion Park Rail didn’t start on March 26, 2011,’’ Mr Ward said.

‘‘If Labor cared about the bypass why didn’t they do anything about it during their 16 years in government – they had this route, let it sit on the shelf and chose to do nothing.’’

An RMS spokeswoman said the remaining funds would be used to complete surveys and geotechnical and hydrological investigations which would help develop the concept design for the bypass.

‘‘Roads and Maritime completed a review of the area reserved for the Albion Park bypass to understand the physical features of the area, Aboriginal cultural heritage, environmental, community and social concerns,’’ the spokeswoman said.

‘‘Significant work was carried out to review the performance of the existing highway and traffic modelling to plan for future traffic volumes and movements in the area.’’

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