Hunter Expressway a beneft for the country
The Armidale-based Foundation for Regional Development says it believes there'll be big benefits for New England travellers following the completion of the Hunter Expressway.
Vehicles will start using the Expressway from Saturday, March 22.
The $1.7 billion, 40km Hunter Expressway delivers a four-lane freeway link between the F3 Freeway, near Seahampton, and the New England Highway, west of Branxton.
It's been one of the largest infrastructure projects in NSW.
The Foundation's CEO, Peter Bailey, says the new expressway could take as much as half-an-hour off travelling time to Newcastle and to Sydney for those living on the Tablelands.
But he says he'd like to see the the O'Farrell government think about an upgrade to the tourist route, Bucketts Way.
Mr Bailey says Bucketts Way lies to the east of the Hunter Expressway, linking Armidale to Gloucester and beyond, and is in need of major works.
"Hopefully, the government will begin to upgrade Bucketts Way again and there'll be that choice again but, at this stage, it's about the convenience of the traveller and most people, I think, will start to go back through the New England Highway," he said.
"The only thing I'd say is that Bucketts Way is a magnificent scenic drive and I think a lot of tourists will still go that way."
Peter Bailey says many travellers from the New England currently use Bucketts Way.
But he says it is in poor condition.
"I think it will mean that a lot of people that would normally travel Bucketts Way through Gloucester to Sydney will go back to travelling through Tamworth and down the Expressway if it is going to be 30 minutes shorter," he said.
"The [New England Highway] is in a lot better condition than Bucketts Way, so I think it will mean a lot more people travelling that way to Sydney."