Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Federal Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips have guaranteed that, despite the planned upgrade to the Jervis Bay Road intersection with the Princes Highway being part of the Government’s wide-ranging Infrastructure Investment Program Strategic Review, it will go ahead regardless.
Speaking to media in Ulladulla on Tuesday (25 July), the PM and Ms Phillips took questions on the ongoing bushfire and flood recovery efforts, the Voice to Parliament, and on planned improvements to the Princes Highway in the Shoalhaven region.
The PM said that the Infrastructure Review covered some 800 projects, some of which were underfunded, some which weren’t national priorities, and others which had their origins with politics in mind rather than road safety or productivity.
“This is a short, sharp review to make sure that every dollar goes to the right project at the right time, and this will be a priority,” Mr Albanese said.
“I stood on that intersection with Fiona Phillips way back in 2019, and nothing happened under the former government,” he added. “I want to make sure it’s delivered. This is an important project. I’ve seen for myself why it’s necessary and we’ll get on with the job of doing it.
“I am guaranteeing that it will happen,” he said emphatically.
Announced in May as part of the 2022/23 Federal Budget, the Government said the Infrastructure Review would focus on ensuring it was investing in projects that were “truly nationally significant”.
“This review will allow all levels of government time to consider the projects that are actual priorities, and assess their cost and deliverability in the current climate,” Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Catherine King said in a 9 May release. “The process will help to lay firm foundations to build a more sustainable, credible pipeline of investment.”
The review is being undertaken by Mr Reece Waldock, Ms Clare Gardiner-Barnes and Mr Mike Mrdak, all of whom have extensive expertise in land transport infrastructure, and they have been given a 90-day window in which to report back to Government.
The current intersection has been a known black spot in the region for years, and with increased traffic to and from the Jervis Bay and Sussex Inlet areas, especially on weekends and during summer holidays, the upgrade has become an imperative.
Promotional video and artwork of the upgrades to the intersection show the Princes Highway built up on a four-lane dual carriageway flyover, with Jervis Bay Rd and local roads converging into roundabouts on both sides of the flyover. Long on and off ramps are provided from the roundabouts to provide smoother merging of traffic, and provision has been made for local pedestrian, cyclist, and public transport traffic.
Some preliminary work was undertaken around the intersection between December last year and June 2023, with improvements to local roads on both sides of the highway in preparation for the major works to come.
According to the NSW Transport website, a tender for the major construction work closed in February 2023, and a contract is expected to be awarded later this year.
Mr Albanese and Ms Phillips were also asked about other major road projects in the region, including the planned Nowra Bypass.
Mr Albanese said additional funding was added to the bypass project earlier this year, but that it would also be subject to the Infrastructure Review.
“That’s an example, though, of where the former governments didn’t have the full costings of it,” he said. “So that’s one of the reasons why you do a review, it’s to get proper costings for projects. What you do is that you get the right policy, the right framework in place, and then you get on with delivering that infrastructure.”
He said he was also open to working closer with the NSW State Government on improvements to the Princes Highway, telling media that the improved infrastructure wasn’t just to improve road safety, but to also support growing communities right along the NSW South Coast.
“What we want to do is to set out a proper timetable for delivering infrastructure in an orderly way that makes the difference,” he said. “And our priority is here on the South Coast.”