Four Illawarra road, rail projects make priority list

A bypass will overcome traffic congestion at Albion Park Rail.
A bypass will overcome traffic congestion at Albion Park Rail.

There were no surprises when representatives from the Illawarra's four councils gathered to list the region's infrastructure priorities, with four long-awaited road and rail projects making the list.

At a "round table" organised by Kiama MP Gareth Ward on Thursday, council officers from Wollongong and Shellharbour and the mayors of Kiama and Shoalhaven met to form a collective wish-list when the government divides up its $20 billion poles and wires privatisation fund.

They agreed the F6 freeway, Albion Park bypass, Berry to Bomaderry bypass and South Coast rail line were top priorities.

Mr Ward said he would use the priority list to form a submission to the government on behalf of the entire Illawarra region, while individual councils would be able to apply separately for a portion of the Rebuilding NSW fund.

Division of the $20 billion fund caused controversy last week when it emerged the Wollongong council area would be classified as metropolitan.

This means it would vie for a share of $14 billion with Sydney and Newcastle, while the rest of the four Illawarra LGAs would be grouped as regional NSW and share in $6 billion.

Some politicians said this would leave the city scrambling for Sydney's crumbs and could limit the region's ability to form a cohesive pitch for a share.

Mr Ward rejected this notion and said Thursday's discussion showed the Illawarra's "loose confederate of warring tribes" could be united.

"We had the councils come together and sing with one voice ... and I wanted to bring people together, being the things that united us are stronger than the things that divide us," he said.

But Shellharbour MP Anna Watson was not appeased, calling the meeting a joke.

"Mr Ward is trying desperately to salvage what little credibility he can after Labor revealed last week that the entire Wollongong local government area would be excluded from the state government's proposed NSW Restart Regional Investment Fund," she said.


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