The NSW Opposition’s treasury spokesman – and Member for Keira – Ryan Park has already hit the road on his 2018 state budget journey, calling on the government to put its foot down on Appin Road funding.
The budget won’t be handed down until June, but that hasn’t stopped Mr Park getting on the front foot in order to secure cash for “one of the worst” roads in the state.
The road, which is used by an average of more than 10,000 vehicles every day, is often an alternative route to Picton Road.
The Labor MP has written to NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey, urging her to prioritise Appin Road for extra funding.
NSW Labor has vowed to spend $50 million on the notorious road if elected at the 2019 election, but Mr Park said he didn’t believe the community should have to wait until then to see significant funds invested.
The federal Coalition government revealed in February last year that it would come good on its $50 million Appin Road pledge.
During the 2016 election campaign, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited Smeaton Grange, near Campbelltown, and promised the money for an upgrade.
Mr Turnbull’s pledge was directed at the Campbelltown end of the road, for “targeted works between Rosemeadow and Appin”, with the promise of better vehicle separation and improved road shoulders.
Mr Park said a bipartisan approach was needed at all levels and called on the state government to commit cash.
“The NRMA have identified this road as one of the worst in NSW that has seen too many people killed and seriously injured,” he said.
“Given the Minister [Pavey] has commenced a review of how the road toll can be reduced, this project is critical to contribute to improved safety on our roads.
“As tens of thousands of people begin to live in the new suburbs around Appin, and with the growth of our university and port, this road will only see additional traffic and therefore it is critical that this investment happens sooner rather than later.”
The state government listed Appin Road as a “Western Sydney growth road” in its 2017 budget papers, with $4.5 million of federal cash allocated last year.
At the Campbelltown end, investigations into the proposed Appin Road upgrade between Mt Gilead and Ambarvale are under way.
That proposal involves upgrading the road from two to four lanes to cut travel times and accelerate housing supply.
Closer to Wollongong, work to realign two curves with high crash rates, about 4km west of the M1 Princes Motorway junction at Bulli Tops, finished in late 2016.
A spokesman for Ms Pavey said the NSW government had completed a range of safety improvements along Appin Road since 2011.
RYAN PARK’S LETTER TO THE ROADS MINISTER
In the lead up to the NSW Budget I would like to advocate to you in the strongest possible way the desire for the Illawarra community to see funds allocated to upgrade the notorious Appin Road.
Minister, you know better than most the level of tragedy that has occurred on this major arterial road way that connects the Illawarra with the ever expanding south west Sydney region.
With the massive increases in population planned for the areas around Appin, the growth of Port Kembla and the fact that the University of Wollongong has become the university of choice for so many young people I am concerned that the increasing traffic demand will only see more lives lost if urgent upgrades are not funded.
The Picton Rd is a clear example of a bipartisan approach to delivering effective road safety upgrades that has resulted in that road significantly safer for the tens of thousands of motorists and professional drivers who use it every day.
We now need to show that same leadership with Appin Rd, a road that the NRMA has identified as one of the worst in NSW.
One of the significant challenges and dangers of Appin Rd is the mix of heavy and light vehicles that use it every day making it a challenge for even experienced drivers let alone those who are not used to sharing the road with large oversized heavy vehicles.
Minister, I have secured a commitment of $50 million from the NSW Shadow Cabinet to be allocated if Labor is elected in 2019, but having sat with family members of those who have tragically lost their life on this road I don’t believe we should wait till then to see significant funds invested.
I urge you to consider prioritising this road and match the Federal Coalition’s allocation of $50 million, to ensure we can improve the safety of this vital link for locals and those visiting the Illawarra region.
I would be more than happy to meet with you or one of your staff to discuss this matter in more detail and can be contacted on 4285 1588 to arrange a suitable time.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this very important request.
Ryan Park MP – Member for Keira, Shadow Treasurer, Shadow Minister for the Illawarra.