Bypass and Kelly Street Conundrum
Featured Image: Acknowledge ‘The Way We Were’; A Pictorial History of the Scone District 1901 – 2001 by Anne McMullin, Kath Farrell and Audrey Entwisle; Federation Publication No 4; Published by Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society Inc. 2002
The ‘unknown identity’ at the opening ceremony is Cr Gerard Dupal who was a Muswellbrook-based lawyer also elected onto the Muswellbrook Shire Council. He was a relative newcomer who lived on a property near Broad Crossing. The NSW Electoral Commission later changed the rules so that no single individual could serve on two LGAs concurrently. Cr Dupal left the district not long after.
“Community to expect lag between Scone Bypass opening and Kelly Street revitalisation works beginning”
‘Bumps in the Road’: Caitlin Reid put it very well in ‘The Scone Advocate’. See below. I attended the meeting. There was a lot of information and still many issues to resolve. However we will work our way through them and I look forward to eventual resolution. It’s been a long journey since the original New England Highway construction 1826 – 1832! There’ve been a few iterations to say the least. The one depicted in the featured image might have been the major ‘reiteration’? I remember it well!
WHILE works on the $137 million New England Highway bypass of Scone are speeding ahead, the Kelly Street revitalisation project has hit a bump in the road.
At a well-attended community meeting on Tuesday night, representatives from Transport for NSW (RMS), Scone Chamber of Commerce and Upper Hunter Shire Council gave an update on both projects.
They revealed that while we can expect the bypass to open to traffic by Easter this year, revitalisation works on the main street will not occur until the RMS has reclassified Kelly Street to a local road and handed it back over to council.
This process could take between six to twelve months following the completion of the bypass, which is a cause of frustration for council, and locals alike.
On Tuesday night council’s general manager Steve McDonald reassured frustrated locals they are doing everything they can, stating they would have liked to have had works on the main street well underway by now.
“Until they can tell us the level of the road and the level of the curb on the road we can’t do any further detailed works,” he said.
“We would have liked to have had one section of the road complete by now, and there is some frustration associated with that.
“I expect things will start to happen quickly once the handover is made.”
Another thorn in the side of council is funding, with RMS having indicated to council they don’t have the money to replace the concrete pavement on Kelly Street.
Council confirmed they currently have $11 million in funding for the revitalisation project but anticipated the total cost would be between $19 to $20 million and would have to be secured through grants.
Chairman of the Scone Revitalisation Committee James Burns gave an update on planning that has been done in the interim, stating approximately 70 per cent of the concept designs for Kelly Street had been completed.
“The remaining 30 per cent will depend on RMS to come through with the street and engineers to come through with our storm-water plans,” Mr Burns said.
“We are also waiting on information on underground concrete, which isn’t expected until the middle of the year.”
He explained that the committee was made up of a number of sub committees, including one solely focused on a ‘Horse Walk of Fame’ which is chaired by well-known local history enthusiast and thoroughbred expert Bill Howey alongside other prominent local names such as Peter Haydon, Jill Macintyre and Dordie Bragg.
There is also a subcommittee dedicated to horticulture, which owner of Potter Macqueen, Prue Robertson, is closely involved in.
Ms Robertson was part of a team that presented the RMS with a plan during horticulture works on the Scone Bypass, which the RMS adopted.
During the meeting, Ms Robertson reiterated the fact that the final version of the Kelly Street concept designs are a long way off, and that attendance to meetings is “very poor and the community really has to push this process”.
“We as a community have to be more proactive, it’s not all going to come from government,” she said.
Mr Burns also explained that branding for the revitalisation had been solidified with a retro/Art Deco style to be adopted.
With the community coming to the realisation that the bypass is imminent, there will be a possible gap of twelve months before town beautification works start and there is not enough money in the bank, conversation then turned towards potential compensation for businesses.
Mr McDonald told those present there was no intended compensation and that the focus was on the “broader long-term benefit and continued communication with businesses”.
Newly elected Scone Chamber of Commerce president Steve Guihot said “from a chamber’s point of view, we would encourage RMS to get to the reclassification point as quickly as possible so there isn’t a 6 to 12 month gap”.
However he urged the community to brainstorm ideas to attract people off the bypass during that ‘gap’ such as community art, theatre, billboards, a possible ‘Reclaim Kelly Street party’ and dining on the footpath.
Transport NSW’s Mark Cure also showed examples of signage which will be displayed on the southern and northern approach to Scone indicating there is an exit into town.
He also indicated they are in discussion with council regarding tourism signs, with images of Barrington Tops as the preferred option.
Bypass Planning Meeting Update
Scone Chamber of Commerce
With more than sixty attendees gathered for the Update on January 21, the stage was set for an interesting meeting. People were there for information and that’s exactly what was delivered from a range of speakers.
Tony Gant from Transport NSW opened proceedings and informed those gathered that traffic would be flowing on the bypass by Easter weather permitting (this drew a wry laugh from the audience – traffic will be on the bypass by Easter).
The meeting was informed that noise-effected properties (by the modelling) will be treated and if more treatment is needed it will be provided once the bypass is operational. Chamber would encourage Council and Transport NSW to keep talking about this matter.
With no further questions on the presentation regarding the bypass itself, several questions were then asked about the Kelly St handover, post the opening of the bypass.
Tony informed the gathering that Transport NSW and UHSC were in dialogue about the treatment of Kelly Street once the bypass opened. This could take between 6-12 months (or more) before a final decision is made. Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Wayne Bedggood took the opportunity to let those gathered know that work could not commence on the revitalisation until this decision was made. Until then, the Mayor said, very little practical “on-ground” work could take place.
The point was made that Council wanted the street “fit for purpose” before accepting it from Transport NSW, otherwise the burden of maintaining the street would fall on the ratepayers of the Upper Hunter. Chamber are supportive of that approach but will continue to monitor the situation and seek updates on a regular basis.
Whilst all of us in Chamber appreciate this dilemma, we believe there are several things Council can do in the interim. Firstly, the completion of Farrams Lane would be important before the revitalisation commences. This would provide much-needed parking when the works on Kelly Street begin. Secondly, the refurbishment of the old sports store (133 Kelly Street) could also be undertaken independent of the revitalisation work.
Chamber intends to highlight these issues when we next meet with the Council.
The next speaker on the night was David Gatwood who highlighted the fact that several hundreds of millions of dollars was being spent (or planned) for the district. This included the bypass ($120M), but also encompassed the work at White Park, the Airport, Scone Saleyards, the pipeline from Scone to Murrurundi, the recently completed upgrade to Scone Golf Club, TAFE Connected Learning Centre, Civic Theatre, Campbells Corner and the like.
Cr James Burns and Alan Fletcher then informed the meeting about the progress on the planning for the revitalisation. Much of the work to date will require revisiting as a result of the final determination of the heights and drainage for Kelly Street. Prue Robertson spoke from the floor encouraging people to take an active role in the revitalisation.
The proposed new design for Kelly Street has more parking bays than present, plus Farrams Lane will allow longer vehicles easier parking and access to Kelly Street.
In relation to the revitalisation concepts, engineers are currently looking at:
- CCTV Security
- Public Art
- Provision for other services
- Power for electric cars
- 133 Kelly St
- Public toilets (133 Kelly/Campbells Corner)
- Timing and Program of works
- Community Consultation
- what to do about the Traffic Lights after the bypass opens – will they still be required?
As a result of the meeting, a number of points for further discussion arose. These included:
- Revitalisation Timetable to be produced – if the road was handed over at the end of June 2020, are we shovel ready? What will be the first steps?
- Confirmation of funding that has been promised. Can Chamber play a role in getting confirmation and assisting with further funding applications?
- Signage Plan on the website so people can see what signage will be displayed leading up to and whilst on the bypass. This will allow business and the Council to assess if further signage was required and where that signage might best be located to draw people off the bypass.
- What is the criteria for having destination signage installed by RMS needs clarification?
- Horse Capital Signage – if we are truly the Horse Capital of Australia, where is the signage to market that fact to passing traffic?
- Consideration of stormwater harvesting from Kelly Street in the revitalisation plans.
- Will Tourist Buses be able to manoeuvre in Kelly St in a revitalised set-up?
- What is the plan for the town once the bypass opens and the revitalisation works begin?
At the close of the meeting, a number of people (14) provided their names as being interested in getting involved in a working group. The idea of the working group would be to thrash out some ideas to attract people off the bypass in the time between the bypass opening and the revitalisation commencing.