Local and visiting bike lovers have a new safe place to ride in wine country with the opening of a multi-million dollar upgrade to Broke and Hermitage Roads.
The project included improvements to Hermitage Road and Broke Roads, a 10.6 kilometre cycleway and installation of tourist facilities including an information bay.
The concept was a joint initiative between Cessnock and Singleton Councils.
The councils combined to submit a successful funding application for $16.7 million from the NSW Government’s Resources for Regions program, which delivers improved infrastructure in mining-affected communities.
The upgrade was officially opened by Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnson at a ceremony on Wednesday after about 12 months of construction.
Mr Johnson said it was fantastic to be able to deliver infrastructure to support the number one wine region in Australia and said it was a credit to those committed to the wine and tourism industry.
Both mayors Bob Pynsent (Cessnock) and Sue Moore (Singleton) agreed the project showed the benefits of working collaboratively between councils.
“This project goes to show what can be achieved when neighbouring councils work together towards a common goal,” Cr Pynsent said.
“This project has truly been an important investment in our communities and in particular for our thriving tourism sector.
“I have no doubt the construction of on-road cycleways and installation of tourist facilities will ensure a better experience for those visiting and in turn result in more opportunities for local tourism operators.”
“$16.7 million is not a small amount of money, but this project is worth so much more in terms of the benefits to the locals who use this road and the visitors who will notice the difference of quality infrastructure,” Cr Moore added.
“It is a fantastic example of the cohesion and cooperation that exists across the borders of our local government areas for the benefits of our residents and businesspeople.
“It also shows the deep understanding of the economic benefits of this beautiful Hunter wine country.
“No doubt we will continue to work together to achieve outcomes for our communities into the future.”
Ms Moore acknowledged the work of contract company KCE, which completed the works 11 weeks ahead of schedule and under-budget, as well as John Martin, who was the Singleton mayor when the project began.
Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association chairman George Souris, who emceed the opening, was also acknowledged as the former Upper Hunter MP who helped kick start the project.