Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange focus
Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange: A transformational infrastructure project for the Hunter
The Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange is the much-anticipated project that promises to transform the Glendale- Cardiff area into the new employment, business and housing hub of the Hunter.
After years in the planning, the first phase of the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange (LMTI) is coming to fruition. Stage One, Section One is set to open in June, providing a direct link between Main Road, Cardiff and the Glendale retail, entertainment and sports precinct.
While the new road is designed to provide access to the interchange, residents and commuters will also notice the difference immediately.
Journeys between surrounding suburbs will be faster and smoother, and traffic congestion will ease significantly around pinch points like the Crossroads and the Lake Road roundabout adjacent to Stockland Glendale Shopping Centre.
The work has been jointly funded by the Australian Government, the NSW Government through the Hunter Infrastructure Investment Fund and Lake Macquarie City Council, with construction carried out by local firm Daracon.
However, these improvements are just the beginning of what could see this strategically located part of Lake Macquarie become the economic engine room of the Hunter Region.
The Glendale-Cardiff area, known as the Lower Hunter Regional Centre, is already the second largest employment zone in the Hunter, with about 11,000 people working in businesses and industries that serve local, regional and national markets. The area sits at the gateway to the Hunter, with direct proximity to both the M1 and Great Northern Railway transport corridors and unmatched access to other parts of the region.
Importantly, it has room to grow, with more than 90 hectares available for business and commercial development as well as land that could provide thousands of affordable homes in an area with fantastic lifestyle attributes.
The LMTI is the essential infrastructure that will allow this vision to be achieved. With the opening of the first section imminent, Lake Macquarie City Council is intensifying its bid to secure government support for the crucial next phase of the project: the Pennant Street Bridge.
The bridge will provide the “missing link” between the busy Glendale retail precinct and the sprawling Cardiff business and industrial park across the railway line. This will open up untapped land reserves, increasing opportunities for new and existing businesses.
“Building the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange will allow us to realise the huge potential of this area – to grow new industries, create new jobs and build new homes,” the Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Cr Kay Fraser, says.
“With the Pennant Street Bridge we can potentially double the number of people working in the area and provide access for around 3,000 new homes.
“That will have wide-ranging benefits, not only for the people of our city but throughout the Hunter Region.”
Stage Two, a future project, would see a full transport interchange constructed at Glendale, including a new train station, to serve the growing population of residents and commuters who will live, work and shop in the area.
The LMTI has attracted widespread support, including from the NSW Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, local state and federal MPs, the NSW Property Council, NRMA, Hunter Business Chamber, Regional Development Australia, Urban Development Institute of Australia and Hunter Councils, which considers the project to be “the number one infrastructure priority for the councils and communities of the Hunter Region”.
Property Council Hunter Director, Andrew Fletcher, says the LMTI is important to realising the NSW Government’s vision for the Hunter, which identifies the Glendale-Cardiff area as an emerging strategic centre.
"This infrastructure project has the potential to establish Glendale-Cardiff as the Hunter’s new employment super-hub and regional transport interchange,” he says.
Mr MacDonald says the interchange is “recognised as a key infrastructure link by the NSW Government."
“Lake Macquarie City Council is in discussions with the State to make the case for funding,” he says. “Strong representations have been made by local MPs. I will continue to back Council as I believe the interchange will prove to be a significant economic driver and improvement in transport for the region.”
Lake Macquarie City Council is seeking $13 million in funding from each of the state and federal governments towards the $32 million cost of the Pennant Street Bridge. The project is shovel-ready and could be completed in 2018 if funding is secured this year.
The Council has also sought funding support from the Federal Government for a $7 million, 700-metre extension of Munibung Road that will directly link Boolaroo and Cardiff, adding to the capacity of the LMTI to unlock development potential and improve transport
An economic assessment prepared for the Council predicts the Pennant Street Bridge and Munibung Road Extension will, combined, generate four dollars for every dollar invested. It says the infrastructure could be the catalyst for up to 3,800 jobs and 3,000 new homes, creating a new road link that would be used by 16,000 vehicles each day.
NRMA President Kyle Loades believes the LMTI could be a model for the rest of the country.
“It would encourage public transport use and provide economic and community benefit to thriving outer suburbs,” he says, adding that building a direct link between Glendale and Cardiff is the “first priority.”
Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes says the construction of the Pennant Street Bridge will “provoke a wave of redevelopment and renewal in the locality and wider region.”
“The eventual addition and integration of bus and rail connections over time will seed the growth of a vital transport hub serving one of the fastest-growing districts in the region,” he adds.
Says Cr Kay Fraser: “With funding support we could transform this area within two years. The opportunity is there to be seized.”
Public art and the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange
Public art will be a prominent feature of the Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange (LMTI), reflecting the area’s significance as a human hub: a place where people work, live, shop and play.
“The LMTI will be a gateway to the City and region so we are using art to create a sense of ‘arrival’ and tell the story of the area,” explains Lake Macquarie City Council Manager, Cultural Services, Jacqui Hemsley.
The centrepiece of the first section is a striking sculpture comprising three interlocking rings rising from the roundabout at the intersection of Pennant Street, Stockland Drive and Glendale Drive. Created by urban design artists Barney Collins and Brendon Farrar, from EJE Architecture, the 26-tonne steel sculpture is titled The Hub and celebrates the linking of Cardiff and Glendale.
“Each ring represents a suburb with its use of colour, red being Cardiff, green being Glendale and yellow to represent Lake Macquarie City Council,” Mr Collins says.
“The use of colours also flows down onto the surface of the roundabout with blue and green tying in with the yellow ring to complete the Council logo.”
Exciting young contemporary artist Elliott ‘Numskull’ Routledge has been commissioned to create a modern 450-square metre artwork along the boundary wall of the new link road. The influential artist’s abstract murals have enlivened streetscapes in Sydney, Hobart, Fremantle and Newcastle, among other places.
“His artwork will reflect the history and identities of Glendale and Cardiff and make the process of travelling along the road an experience, with a distinct beginning and end,” Ms Hemsley says.
“These artworks are deliberately bold and eye-catching – they are designed to be noticed, not blend into the background.”