Labor has pledged to match the Liberal's $1.6 billion commitment to extend the M1 Pacific Motorway from Black Hill to Raymond Terrace.
Paterson MP Meryl Swanson joined Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Tourism, Cities and Regional Development Anthony Albanese at Hexham on Tuesday to announce Labor's commitment to the project if elected to government on May 18.
"We are standing on the edge of Hexham-Tarro boundary near the intersection where the Pacific Highway meets the New England Highway on the Tuesday after Easter and the traffic is thick and the road is old and past it's time. It is time for the new," Ms Swanson said.
Coincidentally, just prior to the conclusion of the funding announcement, there was a road accident in very close proximity to the vacant block of land where the media had gathered in Maitland Road south of Hexham Bridge.
Within minutes traffic had banked up for kilometres on all approaches.
Mr Albanese said that the $1.5 billion funding would deliver 15km of dual carriageway bypassing Hexham and Heatherbrae, new interchanges at Raymond Terrace, Tomago, Tarro and Black Hill and a 2.6km bridge over Woodland Close at the New England Highway.
"The project will create hundreds of jobs in Port Stephens and the Hunter during the construction phase, reduce traffic congestion and release motorists, local residents, tourists, businesses and truck drivers, of the major handbreak around Hexham," he said.
"This is a major investment in the Port Stephens economy aimed at boosting productivity while improving the movement of freight between the major cities."
But Mr Albanese stopped short on providing a timeline for the construction of the long-awaited extension.
"If elected we will sit down with the state government to draw up a realistic timeline for the project," he said. "Planning measures will need to be completed by the NSW government before [the project] goes out to tender and before construction can begin."
Mr Albanese, a supporter of high speed rail, said if elected he would resume his agenda through a Private Member's Bill to provide for the establishment of a high-speed rail authority to oversee the construction of a network along the east coast.
"I am a huge supporter of this area and I can see the enormous advantages decentralisation would bring to Port Stephens and the Hunter."
He also accused the Liberals of not investing a cent to progress the M1 upgrade in the past six years.
According to Infrastructure Australia's 2019 priority list, more than 21,000 vehicles use the M1 in afternoon peak times.
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