With the Berry Bypass on track to be finished six months ahead of schedule, the government’s roads focus in the region will shift to the Albion Park Rail Bypass.
On Saturday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian visited work on the bypass and announced it would be open for motorists by Christmas.
The section of the project that bypasses the bends at Foxground is expected to be open by Easter.
Berry to Bomaderry is the third and final stage of the Princes Highway upgrade, but Parliamentary Secretary for the South Coast Gareth Ward said the Albion Park Rail Bypass is next in line for the region.
“Albion Park is the priority - Albion Park is the priority after the conclusion of the Berry Bypass,” Mr Ward said.
“That’s not to say we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. We are acquiring property, doing the design for Berry to Bomaderry and I’m working studiously to build on the record spends that we’ve seen - $1.5 billion has come to our region for roads.”
In terms of the steps leading to construction, Mr Ward said the Albion Park Rail bypass has completed more than the third stage of the Princes Highway upgrade.
“We’re still acquiring the property and still doing the design [for Berry to Bomaderry],” Mr Ward said.
“In that respect Albion Park is well ahead of Berry to Bomaderry, in that Albion Park has a funding commitment and planning money, whereas Berry to Bomaderry does not at this stage.”
The Albion Park Rail bypass had always been high on Mr Ward’s agenda as well, the Kiama MP said.
“From the minute that I was able to secure the Berry project, Albion Park was a passion of mine because it’s a part of my electorate that has to live with congestion,” he said.
“They’re the only sets of traffic lights between Bomaderry and Heathcote.”
Mr Ward said the Berry bypass project was six months ahead of schedule due to a lack of rain in the region, which made for “good road-building weather”.
Mr Ward admitted the opening of the Berry bypass would create a bottleneck where it rejoined the Princes Highway.
“There’s always going to be a bottleneck when you have two lanes running into one,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter whether it was Gerringong where the traffic used to back up at the Kiama bends for miles.”