Shoalhaven Business Chamber president Jemma Tribe said the traffic chaos caused by a broken down truck near the southbound Shoalhaven River bridge last week shows it's more important than ever to plan for growth of the city.
"Last week's chaos has certainly been a talking point throughout the city," she said.
She said it would be hard to put an actual figure on what the delays may have cost the city from a commercial point of view.
Social media lit up after much of southbound traffic into Nowra ground to halt with massive traffic delays.
At one stage it is understood traffic was banked back well along the Princes Highway to Berry and towards Shoalhaven Heads on Bolong Road.
There was even talk of traffic stretching back up Cambewarra Mountain.
The South Coast Register heard numerous reports of employees being late for work, some not being able to turn up at all, and delays in deliveries, all of which have roll on effects for the local economy.
"It's hard to know what sort of cost you could put on the delays," Mrs Tribe said.
"The traffic snarl was certainly a topic of conversation during a meeting at council that afternoon."
The traffic chaos was caused by a broken down truck near the southbound Shoalhaven River bridge prior to 7.45am and wasn't cleared until around 10.10am, towed from the Princes Highway by local farmer John Bryce.
But effects on traffic lingered for at least another hour.
Mrs Tribe said strategic planning for future traffic needs was imperative.
"The incident further demonstrates the need for the East Nowra Sub Arterial Road (ENSAR) to be planned, implemented and funded as part of the Nowra bridge replacement project to alleviate congestion," she said.
"ENSAR also plays a role in the whole road network plans. We just need to make that happen as well, which will take some of that traffic bound for the eastern villages, off the highway and away from intersections like Kalandar Street.
The incident further demonstrates the need for the East Nowra Sub Arterial Road (ENSAR) to be planned, implemented and funded as part of the Nowra bridge replacement project to alleviate congestion.Shoalhaven Business Chamber president Jemma Tribe
"Where is ENSAR up to?
"We need to know where the money is?
"We see that as critical as well for the whole local road network over the next few years.
"Congestion will only get worse at intersections like Moss Street, Kalandar Street and Hillcrest Avenue. They are already experiencing severe backlogs already, creating havoc further up the highway."
She said she felt for all those stuck in traffic during the incident but unfortunately "it's going to happen".
"It's part of life," she said. "But we need to plan strategically to alleviate the burden as much as possible for the community and businesses.
"I'm noticing it is getting busier at those bottlenecks and pressure points during peak times without incidents. It's not a nice experience.
"Actually protect the route itself from development. Clearly identify and preserve the route.
I'd also like to see a western bypass route being planned for. Actually protect the route itself from development. Clearly identify and preserve the route. Have a plan in place to fund it in the future.Shoalhaven Business Chamber president Jemma Tribe
"Have a plan in place to fund it in the future.
"It will be a huge project financially - in the billions.
"It's something that is not going to happen overnight but we need to plan for the future.
"Upgrading the Princes Highway brings Wollongong closer, we could become an expanded economic hub and realistically more families could move here and commute.
"That puts more pressure on the community and the greater region and we need to plan for that."
Meanwhile, Transport For NSW [formerly Roads and Maritime Services] said last week's incident highlights "the constraints of the Princes Highway at this location", making the "delivery of the Berry to Bomaderry upgrade and the Nowra Bridge project all the more important".
"Both projects will increase capacity and improve traffic flow through a difficult section of the Princes Highway," a spokesperson for Transport For NSW said.
"A Transport for NSW road maintenance crew responded to an incident, where a truck became stranded on the Princes Highway near Illaroo Road.
"This incident blocked one of two southbound lanes, which resulted in traffic delays of up to one hour.
"Once on site, the crew immediately put traffic control in place and reopened two lanes around the truck.
"The crew was unable to put contra-flow traffic arrangements in place due to road safety concerns.
"Transport for NSW thanks local farmer, John Bryce, who assisted the crew in clearing the truck from the road."