Weighing up options on Nelson Bay Road route

CONCERNED: Williamtown resident Heath Buman has been told his Nelson Bay Road property is earmarked for acquisition if the NSW Government decides on widening the road.
CONCERNED: Williamtown resident Heath Buman has been told his Nelson Bay Road property is earmarked for acquisition if the NSW Government decides on widening the road.

A Williamtown family living in the PFAS contamination zone has an anxious wait as state government departments weigh up route options for the $275 million duplication of Nelson Bay Road.

Heath and Sarah Buman have been told that their Nelson Bay Road property, located in the 'red zone', is earmarked for acquisition if the government decides on the road widening option, in preference to building a new road through the sandhills.

"Our concern is the current market value of the property if the RMS decides to purchase it. As we are inside the contamination zone the market value is a lot less than pre-PFAS time. We bought the property in 2010 so we could stand to lose a lot of money," Mr Buman said.

The Bumans are also concerned about the impact heavy vehicles travelling along Nelson Bay Road are having on the structure of their home.

"We wrote to the RMS telling them of the severity of the house shaking due to heavy vehicle traffic. The road out the front is in extremely poor condition and the vibrations continue to damage our home," Mr Buman said.

"We are aware that Nelson Bay Road is being duplicated and the decision has not been made as to where it will be aligned. We would like assurances [from government] that the duplicated road doesn't come any closer to our house. The damage is already evident in cracking walls."

DUPLICATION: Liberal MLC and parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Catherine Cusack says preliminary work is being undertaken for the $275 million duplication of Nelson Bay Road.

DUPLICATION: Liberal MLC and parliamentary secretary for the Hunter Catherine Cusack says preliminary work is being undertaken for the $275 million duplication of Nelson Bay Road.

The Bumans have the support of State MP Kate Washington.

"It would be unconscionable for the government to take advantage of the PFAS contamination issue and compulsorily acquire properties that are significantly undervalued by virtue of the contamination. That would lock in financial ruin for families who are still desperately seeking a solution," Ms Washington said.

"I have written to the Transport Minister calling for the government to guarantee that all property owners will receive a fair price if acquisitions become necessary."

As one of many 2019 pre-election promises for Port Stephens, the NSW Government announced an investment of $275 million to duplicate the long awaited Nelson Bay Road from Williamtown to Bobs Farm.

The recently reinstated parliamentary secretary for the Hunter, Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack, said that early work on the Nelson Bay Road project was completed in June 2019 and included the upgrade of the intersection of Nelson Bay Road and Medowie Road.

"Transport for NSW is currently planning for the duplication as the next priority for the corridor and is considering both on-line and off-line route alignment options," Ms Cusack said.

Two primary route alignment options are being considered for both sections of the project - from Williamtown to Salt Ash and from Salt Ash to Bobs Farm.

"An on-line route would follow the existing Nelson Bay Road alignment. An off-line route would follow a new road alignment [through the sandhills]," Ms Cusack said.

"Comments on [the department's] 'have your say' website closed on October 11, with 98 submissions received about a range of issues.

A map showing the two options for the Nelson Bay Road duplication.

A map showing the two options for the Nelson Bay Road duplication.

"The next stage of early work involves upgrading the Nelson Bay and Lemon Tree Passage roads intersection. Utilities were relocated for the project in December and work is planned to start on Monday, February 3, weather permitting."

Ms Cusack said that the RMS was continuing to carry out preliminary planning and investigation work on the duplication project from Williamtown to Bobs Farm. The investigation work includes site investigations by environmental and Aboriginal heritage specialists.

"We will also be monitoring traffic movements and surveying the road corridor, property boundaries, driveways and footpaths. This preliminary planning and investigation work will be ongoing over the coming months."

The key features of the works include two lanes in each direction; improved intersection access; improved shoulders for cyclist; and minimum 80km/h design. They also involve a series of projects to improve safety and efficiency on the corridor.

Projects on Nelson Bay Road would help to provide better connectivity for residents, businesses and the community to Newcastle airport and Williamtown RAAF base; improve traffic flow, journey times and safety for motorists on Nelson Bay Road; improve pedestrian and bicycle safety; support tourism and rural industries as a major economic driver in the Port Stephens area.

Ms Cusack could not provide a timeline for the project's progression but said that more detail was expected to be revealed in the May state budget.