A SMALL hole was dug on Monday to mark the start of a big project – the long-awaited Glendale interchange.
Lake Macquarie mayor Jodie Harrison did the honours with a silver spade, surrounded by politicians of different stripes – all of whom were chuffed.
It was a long, hard political struggle to start the project – 17 years in fact.
But there’s plenty more lobbying to be done – about $100million is needed to complete the interchange vision.
The site is divided by the state electorates of Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery (Labor) and Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper (Independent).
Ms Hornery said there was a ‘‘massive mountain ahead’’.
‘‘I will keep lobbying my state counterparts,’’ Ms Hornery said.
Mr Piper predicted the start of work would ‘‘increase pressure on government to fund the remaining stages of the project’’.
“I have always had great belief in the potential of the interchange to transform Glendale and surrounding suburbs into a regional hub for commercial and residential growth,’’ Mr Piper said.
Both the Coalition and Labor had committed cash at different levels of government, along with Lake Macquarie City Council.
However, the Baird government had made no commitment to the proposed Pennant Street bridge or the planned railway station and transport interchange.
Asked if she thought this would change, Ms Hornery said: ‘‘I get the sense that in the next three years, there will be more funding from the state government’’.
The Coalition’s Scot MacDonald attended the sod-turning ceremony, saying the state government was ‘‘very interested in any transport infrastructure that drives economic activity’’.
‘‘If the case is put up convincingly, I’m sure it’ll get a good hearing,’’ said Mr MacDonald, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter.
Officials hope more money will be forthcoming from the federal government, with an election to be held next year or in early 2017.
Federal Charlton MP Pat Conroy, of Labor, said: ‘‘My plan is strong advocacy for what is the number one project for this region’’.
Federal Coalition senator for NSW Arthur Sinodinos attended the ceremony, saying: ‘‘We’ll fight very hard for funding for those stages still to come’’. ‘‘That’s something that I think will be bipartisan.’’
As reported on Monday, the start of the interchange involves a $26million project to extend and realign Glendale Drive with new traffic lights and lengthen Stockland Drive. It will include a roundabout and new bridge over Winding Creek.