At least another $600-800 million is needed to upgrade and duplicate the Barton Highway, according to the Mayor of Yass Rowena Abbey, who says Yass residents have been frustrated at the progress of the highway for three decades.
“The biggest concern for residents is the fact that it is narrow and over the last few years there have been quite a few deaths and accidents, and the intensity of the accidents is high because they are head-on,” Ms Abbey told Region Media.
“We have to get more commitment for funding from both the state and federal government for the next phase.”
Work to put in median strips, wider roads, increased signage and three bus stops has now begun as small infrastructure projects have been ramped up by the NSW Government to help stimulate a lagging economy.
New and improved bus stops will be put in place at Vallencia Drive, Gooda Creek Road and Euroka Avenue.
The projects will use $2.4 million of $50 million allocated by NSW for the highway and will be imperative to protecting school children and residents along the highway, Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman said.
“By removing the stops from the Barton Highway, children will have a safe place to wait for the school bus and parents will have a safe place to drop off and pick up their kids,” she said.
“This part of the project includes building off-road turning circles for buses, and installing modern bus shelters to provide all-weather protection for waiting passengers.”
NSW Senator Jim Molan says the work at the intersections of Gooda Creek Road and Vallencia Drive, which started last month, would help improve the flow of traffic along the highway.
“Safety is a significant issue for residents and commuters, and the intersection improvements at Gooda Creek Road and Vallencia Drive will make access from local roads to the Barton Highway safer for everyone,” Senator Molan said.
“The upgrade includes improving lanes for slowing down, building concrete median strips, widening the road, installing safety barriers and upgrading line markings, drains and signs.”
The $200 million upgrades on the arterial road that connects Canberra to Murrumbateman and Yass has been riddled with delays and is consistently ranked as one of the worst and most dangerous roads in NSW by the NRMA.
The road is used by around 12,500 cars a day, including school children and parents from Murrambatemen who send their children to school in Canberra or Yass as there is no primary school in the small town.
Many commuters from Yass also use the road daily to attend jobs in the capital, forcing them to take the ‘mad mile’ – the final three to five kilometre stretch of road coming into Canberra which is infamous for its congestion.
The highway upgrades, which have been divided into four phases, were originally earmarked for a mid-2020 finish but have been pushed back to 2023, leading to a firey exchange between Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole and his Labor counterpart John Graham during NSW estimates in early March.
An additional $100 million for the Barton Highway was pumped into the project by the Federal Government in 2018 under the 2018-19 Budget Roads of Strategic Importance Initiative, bringing its total commitment to $150 million.
Changed traffic conditions will be in place while work takes place between 9.30 am and 3:00 pm on weekdays, including reduced speed limits of 60 km/h and lane closures. Motorists are advised to expect delays between five and 10 minutes during this time.
Work is expected to be completed in June 2020.