Newcastle Inner City Bypass needs to be fit for the future, Scot MacDonald saysPHOTOS

Jammed: Traffic backs up as staff, patients and visitors try to leave the internal road network at John Hunter Hospital on Wednesday afternoon. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.


John Hunter’s traffic gridlockSCOT MacDonald is questioning whether the final stage of Newcastle’s Inner City Bypass is “fit for the future” following reports traffic jams in and around the John Hunter Hospital can leave staff and patients waiting more than hour to exit the site.

The NSW parliamentary secretary forthe Hunter said Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) made a “compelling argument” forwhy the current proposal, which only includes a half interchange at the rear of the John Hunter Hospital, would work.

“Their response is that the road network withinthe hospital only has so much capacity, so why go building a bigger bypass, feeding in and out of the hospital, if what they are proposing now matches that internal limit?” Mr MacDonald said.

But given Newcastle’s growth andpopulation projections, as well asthe growth of John Hunteras a major hospital, Mr MacDonaldquestioned whether the current bypass design needed to include a full interchange for the longterm.

City bypass must be for ‘long term’ John Hunter traffic chaos. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

John Hunter traffic chaos. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

John Hunter traffic chaos. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

John Hunter traffic chaos. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

The proposed bypass.

TweetFacebook John Hunter Hospital traffic +7MORE GALLERIES

facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappcommentComments“I’m looking for satisfaction that this is a 20- or 30-year solution. Not a five or 10 year solution,” he said.

“We’ve got a plan, and RMS has substantiated that plan with their traffic modelling.

“Now it needs some very hard thinking about whether this missing link, for want of a better word, is a 20 year or30 year solution, so that we don’t have another Tourle Street Bridge situation wherewe’re going to come back in five or 10 years and have to re-do it.”

MrMacDonalddescribed theinternal road network at John Hunter Hospital as a “dog’s breakfast”.

He said unless Hunter New England Health made plans to “substantially or significantly” change its internal road network, the access from the bypass ramps was likely to be capped.

Hunter New England Health capital works manager Brett Evans said the hospital would upgradeits internal road system to connect to the bypass interchange to ease congestion.

Therewere noplans to reinstate the park and ride shuttle bus service, which waswas introduced to ease parking pressures at the hospital prior to740 car spaces being added in 2015.

“The resources used to run the shuttle bus have been reinvested into frontline clinical services,” he said.

“We believe this is the best use of health resources.”

An RMS spokesperson said the current bypassproposal’s half interchange would provide access to the hospital to and from the north.

“This option was assessed as having strong economic benefits, with improved traffic flow on the surrounding road network,” he said.

“The proposed half interchange separates north and southbound traffic to take full advantage of capacity within the grounds of the hospital.

“Access to and from the hospital depends on an efficient internal road network. Work required to integrate the western access within the hospital’s internal road network would be assessed, designed and implemented by NSW Health Infrastructure and Hunter New England Local Area Health District.”

The spokesperson said full access to the hospital would also still beavailable to and from Lookout Road at the main entrance.

“For motorists from the south, the existing hospital access off Lookout Road provides a shorter distance than the proposed western connection off the bypass with motorists travelling one kilometre instead 2.5 kilometres,” he said.