THE state government has pledged nearly $2 million to prepare a business case for the remaining stages of the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange.
The project has been lauded by all 13 Hunter councils, and has the support of the region’s Labor MPs.
But funding for the remaining stages of the project has been non-existent, with the Turnbull Government snubbing the interchange in the May budget.
Lake Macquarie council had been asking both the state and federal governments to contribute $13 million each for construction of the next stage, which includes the Pennant Street Bridge.
However, Transport for NSW disputed the council’s costings, and is fearful of a cost blowout if it commits major funding to the project based on the council’s estimates.
On Tuesday, the Berejiklian Government attempted to end the stand-off between the two parties by announcing $1.7 million to “prepare a strategic business case” for the transport interchange “including cost of rail bridge, station and bus interchange”.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said the funding showed the government was prudent with how it spent money.
He said the government did not want the “hangover” that went with other projects that had blown out.
“Lake Macquarie had done their own [costings] but it just wasn’t supported by the department of transport,” Mr MacDonald said.
“It’s not a not of money but it does mean Transport and Lake Macquarie council are working very closely now.”
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser said Tuesday’s funding was an “essential step” in the council continuing to press its case for future funds.
“The business case is an essential step in bidding for government funds to undertake the remaining stages of the LMTI. It will also ensure that the priorities outlined in Hunter Regional Plan 2036 are realised for both Lake Macquarie City and the wider Hunter Region,” Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser said in a statement.
“The benefits of this project are solid – it has the potential to create affordable housing for 2740 dwellings and 3,800 new jobs in this emerging strategic centre.
“This infrastructure project has the potential to establish Glendale as a new employment super-hub and regional transport interchange, and aligns with a future expansion of the light rail network beyond the Newcastle CBD to Glendale.”