It would be at least two more years before any of the $2 billion in federal government funding would be used on the long-awaited M1 Extension from Black Hill to Raymond Terrace.
This is despite calls getting louder for the project - linking the M1 to the Pacific Highway at Raymond Terrace - to be fast tracked in order to help stimulate the economy.
The NSW government has committed $200 million from Rebuilding NSW towards significant planning and preparation work required before construction could commence, while the federal government in its 2019-20 Budget allocated $1.6 billion toward the project, which would see funding contributions each year between 2021-22 and 2027-28.
The proposed M1 Pacific Motorway Extension includes 15 kilometres of dual carriageway motorway bypassing Hexham and Heatherbrae; a 2.6 km bridge over Woodlands Close, the Northern Railway, New England Highway and Hunter River; and interchanges at Black Hill, Tarro, Tomago and Raymond Terrace.
The environmental assessment of the project and the concept design were yet be finalised.
A spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack told the Examiner that the government would be honouring its $1.6 billion funding commitment, while it continued to work with its state counterpart to confirm planning and delivery timeframes and to ensure delivery of the project as soon as possible.
"This funding will support jobs and investment for the region as well as improve freight efficiency, flood immunity, road safety and travel times for the road and surrounding network," the spokesperson said.
"However, the scale of this project means significant planning and preparation work is required before construction can begin. An Environmental Impact Statement is currently under development, with investigations and planning work to underpin the concept design underway."
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the state government had committed $5.9 million this year to prepare the project for construction and was working with the federal government on funding arrangements to deliver the project as soon as possible.
"Key benefits of the proposal include improved connection; improved traffic flow and more reliable travel times; improved accessibility to the surrounding road network; and improved safety for all road users."
Paterson Labor MP Meryl Swanson this week joined with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in calling on the Morrison government to provide fiscal stimulus and invest in infrastructure to support the Port Stephens economy.
"Mr Morrison could visit Raymond Terrace tomorrow and put a shovel in the ground to start the proposed extension of the M1 Pacific Highway. He should stop delaying and work with the state to bring forward this project to stimulate jobs. Bills are going up while jobs are harder to come by."
Ms Swanson said that areas in Paterson such as Raymond Terrace had almost double the national unemployment rate.
"With Mr Morrison overseeing horrendous jobs figures, the need for a boost to local jobs couldn't be more urgent."
Liberal Member of the NSW Upper House, Taylor Martin MLC, said the M1 extension would deliver improved travel times for motorists and freight as well as safety improvements for all road users.