Today’s announcement of $21 million to progress the Mount Ousley Interchange project by the Minister for Transport and Roads and the Minister for Local Government has been welcomed by Business Illawarra as a crucial investment in what is arguably the most important and challenging road south of Sydney.
Business Illawarra has been advocating for progress on the project since its own 2018 road research found that it would deliver $46 million per year in economic benefits, comprising $34 million in travel time savings, $9 million in vehicle operating cost savings and $3.7 million in crash savings.
According to the 2018 study, over 53,000 vehicles per day travelling that section of the M1 saw it operating at capacity for short periods each day. During peak hour, the northbound lanes on Mount Ousley carried a total of 3,400 vehicles, of which over 500 were heavy vehicles. The already-high proportion of heavy vehicles on the road is growing at 6 per cent per year, which significantly constrains the capacity of the road and poses a major safety issue.
Business Illawarra Executive Director Adam Zarth said that today’s announcement by the NSW Government was the second major win for the business community’s push for improved road connectivity this month, as it follows the announcement of $44 million to commence planning the upgrade of Picton Road.
“It is fantastic to see major progress announced for the Mount Ousley interchange project, which will improve both the safety of this vital stretch of the Princes Motorway, as well as its performance, which will yield major economic benefits,” said Mr Zarth.
“Mount Ousley is the only escarpment crossing fit for heavy vehicles, and so is relied upon by practically every business in the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and on the South Coast – whether directly or indirectly.”
“Our 2018 research put beyond doubt that Mount Ousley would reach capacity in the mid-2020s, which will result in an economic cost as well as major safety implications.”
“The intersection at the base of Mount Ousley is a major risk to northbound motorists, who must perform a right hand turn across a dual carriageway at the base of a long and steep descent with large volumes of heavy vehicles.”
“This project will also provide a welcome new point of entry to the University, which will ease traffic around the campus by about a third as well as providing a much-needed link across the M1 to Wollongong’s CBD.”