Call to fund wider highway near Maitland

THE Rutherford-to-Lochinvar peak hour ‘‘red snake’’ is a traffic nightmare urgently needing attention and one Maitland councillor Henry Meskauskas is determined to fix.

Cr Meskauskas received unanimous support earlier this week for his call to state and federal government MPs to back a four-lane highway linking the two suburbs, often gridlocked at peak traffic times.

‘‘I want Robyn Parker and Joel Fitzgibbon to meet with the Transport Minister, the Roads and Maritime Service and a delegation from Maitland City Council to discuss as a matter of urgency the need for a four-lane highway,’’ Cr Meskauskas said.

The stretch of road was known as the ‘‘big red snake’’, referring to the constant stream of red brake lights.

‘‘We need to impress upon members of parliament that this matter is urgent and we need to start looking for funding now,’’ Cr Meskauskas said.

Cr Ken Wethered said he supported Cr Meskauskas’s motion but was not going to hold his breath for immediate action.

Mayor Peter Blackmore said he understood that the state had bought some properties with the plan to widen the highway, particularly near Rutherford aerodrome.

‘‘It only takes one heavy truck to come to grief and it’s gridlock,’’ he said.

‘‘This is absolutely essential but being a realist I feel we won’t see anything until after the construction of the Hunter Expressway. Then it could be re-evaluated.

‘‘However, I support Cr Meskauskas’s intent to get it up there for funding.’’

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