Hunter to receive millions of dollars for big ticket items under state budget

Peak hour traffic on Croudace Road, New Lambton Heights, near John Hunter Hospital.
Peak hour traffic on Croudace Road, New Lambton Heights, near John Hunter Hospital.

MILLIONS of dollars are set to flow into the Hunter with the state government announcing several big ticket items in the lead-up to its budget reveal.

On Friday the NSW Premier Mike Baird was in town to announce $150 million to kickstart the missing Rankin Park to Jesmond link of the inner-city bypass.

The 17.3 kilometre, $280 million project has been on the drawing board for than 50 years and should drastically reduce traffic around John Hunter Hospital.

Construction of the 3.4 kilometre fifth and final stage of the bypass could start in 2017.

Last Thursday the state government announced $20 million for Hunter Sports High School at Gateshead.

The school will go through a gradual rebuild, including new classrooms, science and visual arts labs, metalwork and woodwork rooms, food technology areas, a library and a canteen, as well as plans for training facilities and sports areas.

It was significantly damaged in the 1989 earthquake, and has been in a state of disrepair since.

The Junction Public School will also receive in excess of $2.5 million for the construction of five classrooms to replace demountables.

Damage to its main two-storey block was also caused by the 1989 earthquake.

Another $14 million will be spent on car spaces for the John Hunter Hospital and Calvary Mater.

However, not everyone is happy with the pre-budget announcements, with the state government cutting all of the Salvation Army's homelessness services in Newcastle.

Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army Newcastle region, Major Gavin Watts, said it was a "massive blow", with both long-term clients and staff to be affected by the cuts.

The rest of the budget was set to be released on Tuesday afternoon as The Star went to print.