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A crossing of the Shoalhaven River has been upgraded to a "priority project" by an independent body Infrastructure Australia.
The body's 2020 priority list also highlights the urgent need for improved freight rail access to Port Kembla, saying it needed to be addressed in the next five years.
The state and federal governments have committed funding to a new bridge over the Shoalhaven River, with the winning construction firm announced earlier this month.
"The project has strategic merit as it supports local, regional and tourist traffic, and allows for more efficient movement of freight on this important highway," the Infrastructure Australia list stated.
Improving freight rail access to Port Kembla needed to be addressed because of the clash between passenger services and freight trains on the South Coast line.
"Operations on the Illawarra line are constrained by passenger rail services in the region, resulting in disruptions to freight scheduling," the list stated.
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"Freight services are often held for up to 11 hours as passenger services are given priority."
It suggests either upgrading the existing line or developing an alternative rail alignment to the port - which could be the Maldon-Dombarton line.
Wollongong MP Paul Scully said the state government needed to get moving on solving the freight rail issue at Port Kembla.
He referred to the government's own business case that freight trains could run out of room on the South Coast line
"We are rapidly heading towards when the deadline is going to hit when passenger and freight services will have to compete for rapidly declining slots because of the congestion on the South Coast line," Mr Scully said.
"The NSW government has been warned time and again in its own reports that this day of reckoning is coming and yet it stubbornly refuses to do anything about it."
An upgrade to Picton Road also made the list, with Infrastructure Australia finding that increasing traffic volumes were "causing significant delays and safety issues on the route".
The body suggested intersection upgrades, median barriers, extra capacity and extra overtaking lanes as possible solutions.
Illawarra Business Chamber executive director Adam Zarth said it was good to have local projects on the list because "it does make it more likely the government will find resources for them in the future".
However, he expressed concern about the lack of clear timelines for the projects.
"The list includes future freight rail access to Port Kembla, minor upgrades to Picton Road, and road and rail connectivity to Greater Sydney, but there are no timelines given despite our research indicating that Illawarra road and rail bottlenecks will cost the economy $640 million per annum by 2031," Mr Zarth said.
The South Coast line also made an appearance on the list, with suggestions to reduce the long travel time between Wollongong and Sydney, albeit with a 10-15 year time frame.
Infrastructure Australia said these travel times reduced the Illawarra's accessibility to the Sydney job market.
This article first appeared on www.illawarramercury.com.au
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