Work could start on the long talked about East Nowra Sub Arterial road (ENSA) early in the new year.
ENSA has been in the works for many years and is designed to take traffic off the Princes Highway behind Stockland Nowra, across the floodplain to rejoin Greenwell Point Road.
The aim is to alleviate congestion around the Kalandar Street intersection and also provide an easier access for traffic travelling to the eastern villages.
ENSA and to a lesser extent the Northern Collector Road are seen as two other vital pieces of infrastructure to complement the proposed new Nowra bridge and surrounding intersection upgrades.
When questions about ENSA were raised at Monday’s announcement of the upgraded concept design and environmental assessments, Shoalhaven councillors present, Jo Gash and Deputy Mayor Patricia White, were quick to jump in saying ENSA needed to be constructed “as soon as possible”.
Running across the Shoalhaven River floodplain will pose significant engineering issues, with council’s own Nowra Key Road Projects documents saying the estimated costs is between $15-$25 million depending on flood level requirements.
Council’s economic development manager Greg Pullen said work could start on the project as soon as early next year.
“We are in discussions with Nowra High School, Stocklands and RMS regarding the road,” Mr Pullen said.
It is understood the road will greatly impact on the high school’s playing fields, which includes a cricket field, a full athletics track and possibly a football field.
Mr Pullen said ENSA had certainly moved up the priority list.
“We are in the process of organising the pre-loading [fill for the road to be built up to be above required flood levels] for the project, which on its own is a huge job,” he said.
“Council has also resolved to apply for funding for the project and we are in the early stages of that.”
Kiama MP Gareth Ward has previously stated $24 million in state funding was available which council could apply for to be used for the road’s construction.
“Discussions are happening now to get the final design and we have got to line up material to do pre-loading,” Mr Pullen said.
“We are looking at getting that from some of our other projects instead of facing the cost of buying it on the open market.
“I doubt we would see any construction prior to Christmas but shortly after in early 2019 we could see some movement.”
As for where the road will actually connect with the highway, council on its documents has listed two possibilities, North Street and Junction Street.
“There is still planning being done and things like any possible future Stockland expansion and how Brereton Street will be part of the project are all being decided,” Mr Pullen said.
Likewise, at the exit onto Greenwell Point Road at the intersection of Old Southern Road, questions remain if a roundabout/interchange would be needed to further enhance free traffic movements?
ENSA could eventually connect up with Old Southern Road and be continued to join Warra Warra Road before rejoining the highway at the major roundabout at that intersection.
Council also recently announced it was installing pedestrian-only traffic lights at Junction Street and Princes Highway intersection at a cost of $900,000.
ENSA was brought back to council in February this year for another report.
Council’s key road projects documents state the project will start in the Nowra CBD at North and Junction streets and continue south to meet Greenwell Point Road at the intersection of Old Southern Road.
Project construction is likely needed to be staged with pre-loading requiring a 12-month construction and settlement period followed by an 18-month road construction period.
The Northern Collector Road, for which Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis secured $13.8 million, appears not to be such a priority at the moment.
Mrs Sudmalis said an updated report from RMS says the road is “not as essential” for the bridge/Illaroo Road upgrade.
“RMS will keep lanes of Illaroo Road open as they do the improvements,” Mrs Sudmalis said.
“It has taken a bit of pressure off council to get that road completed earlier. It gives them the ability to finish the collector road to service the Tapiatallie area.”
Cr White said staff was still working on the northern road including starting to acquire properties.
“Once we get the properties secured and design down we will be into it,” she said.
“There was report to council two months ago with time frames and councillors have asked staff to bring those time frames down.
“It was five years, we want it as soon as possible.”
The recent West Cambewarra Road fires, which raced through bushland and threatened properties at Bomaderry facing the Princes Highway, highlighted a requirement for another North Nowra access, an issue Cr White said councillors were aware of.
“We are pushing staff to get it done as soon as possible,” she said.