CONSTRUCTION of the billion-dollar bypasses for Muswellbrook and Singleton will begin this year, says Transport for NSW.
The department met Hunter representatives from all three levels of government this week and assured them both projects will be completed in 2026.
Federal member for Hunter, Dan Repacholi, welcomed the commitment on the much-anticipated bypasses.
"As I campaigned around both Singleton and Muswellbrook during the election, people always asked me will we ever see these bypasses built," Mr Repacholi said. "I am sure locals will start to feel the projects are actually going to happen when they see some initial early works commence in the coming months.
"In the meantime I will keep working with both mayors and the state government to make sure the works are started as soon as possible and that we see them completed as promised by the end of 2026."
As well as Mr Repacholi, Transport for NSW met with Upper Hunter state Nationals MP and leaders from Singleton and Muswellbrook councils.
"Both of these bypasses are vital and will require the co-ordination of all three levels of government to bring them to fruition," Mr Repacholi said.
"It was good to get a briefing from Transport for NSW on where the projects are up to and when works will begin."
The NSW government will contribute $67.2 million and the federal government $268.8 million to build the Muswellbrook bypass, with the Singleton bypass coming at a cost of $700 million, $560 million of which comes from the Commonwealth.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the New England Highway bypass of Muswellbrook would improve travel times, freight efficiency and safety for all road users.
"Up to 20,000 vehicles, including 2600 heavy vehicles, use the existing New England Highway through Muswellbrook each day," the spokesperson said. "Once the bypass is built, local and through traffic will enjoy safer journeys and there will be significant safety, amenity and economic improvements in the town centre.
"The project is also expected to create 720 direct jobs and 1090 indirect jobs, creating a much-needed economic boost for the Upper Hunter region."
The meeting coincided with a report released by the state government, detailing responses to community feedback on the environmental assessment and concept design.
The spokesperson said stakeholders and the community were invited to provide feedback on the bypass from 8 November to 17 December 2021.
"We received a total of 24 submissions from community, businesses, Muswellbrook Shire Council and government agencies on a range of issues such as property, land use and amenity impacts including noise and air quality," the spokesperson said.
Both projects are long-awaited for residents in the Hunter. The bypass of the Singleton was promised in 2013 and originally due to open in 2017, with preferred options for the Muswellbrook bypass announced as far back as 2005.
Singleton mayor Sue Moore said the two councils will work together on the delivery of the projects, as well as economic outcomes for both communities.
"I can understand that many people are questioning whether progress is being made on the bypasses, and Transport for NSW have provided a thorough overview of the work that is happening and what needs to be done to allow construction to commence," she said. "We've been told we'll start seeing works on the ground later this year, and construction will take three years.
"We need to start planning now for the opportunities the bypass will bring to encourage people into our towns to build on economic and social development."
Muswellbrook general manager Fiona Plesman said "after a very long wait, the communities of Muswellbrook Shire can be confident that the bypass will be delivered by the end of 2026."