PHOTOS: Illawarra highway treated like 'bush track'

Source: Illawarra Mercury

Another downpour, another closure of the Illawarra Highway at Albion Park and the frustration of a community continues to grow.

In a situation that keeps on repeating, the flooding of the highway has once again caused traffic chaos for motorists travelling through Albion Park and Albion Park Rail.

It has been an issue for many years, but as the population and traffic volume increases in the area so too does the angst.

Albion Park Chamber of Commerce president Jim McCallum described the situation as "ridiculous", having just spent 30 minutes trying to get from Albion Park Rail to Shellharbour City Centre.

"People are just flabbergasted," Mr McCallum said.

"We know that a proposed bypass is on the books, but surely to goodness the RMS or Shellharbour council could do something to somehow get that road sorted so it is driveable after rain."

'The amount of traffic is ridiculous, even at night time ... so much traffic goes up Macquarie Pass these days.'

Mr McCallum said the congestion meant everyone got to work late and the road became more dangerous as people lost patience.

"People are trying to drop kids at preschool or school and then make it to work on time ... this is an unnecessary angst still being forced on our community.

"It is a major road but it is just being treated like a bush track ... I think it will need work whether the bypass goes there or not."

Albion Park's Michel's Patisserie franchisee Mario Mastroianni said the delays were now more than just inconvenient, and were exacerbated by the debate over the Tongarra Road fence in 2010.

"We had this fence going in, then taken out ... why couldn't they spend the money on something more useful like the Illawarra Highway?"

David Harris of Harris Garage on Tongarra Road said there had been a lack of infrastructure in Albion Park for 30 to 40 years.

"The closure causes chaos ... everyone has had enough," he said.

"The amount of traffic is ridiculous, even at night time ... so much traffic goes up Macquarie Pass these days."

Kiama MP Gareth Ward said the ultimate solution to flooding on the Illawarra Highway would be provided by the proposed Albion Park Rail bypass.

"We expect planning for the bypass to take three to six years," Mr Ward said.

"Following my election in 2011, we cleared a length of the Frazers Creek channel downstream from the Illawarra Highway.

"This made some improvement to both the frequency and duration of flooding of the highway, however as expected could not completely fix the problem.

"The area downstream from the highway is almost flat ... making it difficult for the water to drain away following heavy rain.

"I have been advised by RMS that they plan to clear the Frazers Creek channel again this financial year, but RMS cannot begin this task until the farm paddocks are dry enough to put an excavator on."

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