TRAFFIC congestion that can cause delays of up to an hour in and around the John Hunter Hospital will continue to be a problem as the RMS has “ruled out” the construction of a full interchange near the site, the State Member for Wallsend says.
Sonia Hornery said she met with officials from the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) this week to discuss the fifth and final stage of the Newcastle Inner City Bypass.
Ms Hornery said RMS officials had ruled out a complete interchange at the John Hunter Hospital, and had confirmed construction was unlikely to begin for another three-to-four years.
“Despite the government wanting to future-proof the bypass, the RMS have ruled out building a complete interchange at the John Hunter Hospital,” she said.
“What is concerning to me is that the RMS don’t think that the complete interchange is needed for another 10 years. But the road is not due to start construction for another three or four years, and will take another two years to construct.
“So by the time the road is built, the complete interchange at the hospital will almost be needed according to the modelling used.
“This is just another Tourle Street Bridge, we will see a future government pay double the cost to complete the interchange when it should be done now.”
Staff at the John Hunter Hospital raised the issue of traffic gridlock with NSW Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, when he attended the official opening of the site’s new paediatric intensive care unit recently.
“Some of the doctors raised the issue of the difficulties of getting in and out of the hospital during peak staff changes,” Mr Hazzard said.
“They told me that most of the day it’s pretty good, but during those periods, it’s pretty intense.”
Mr Hazzard said he had raised the problem with NSW Health Infrastructure. He would not say whether or not he supported a full interchange until he had more information.
“At my level I’m expecting big picture answers, and that’s what I’m pushing for,” he said.
“I share the same concerns Sonia has, at least as far as what the government agency’s views are on the issue, and I’ll be pushing to try to get a solution.
“Having lengthy delays in and around the hospital, even if it be only two or three hours a day, could be hugely problematic.”