Commitment to put railway crossing on council agenda
The man who looks set to take the third seat in the Gosford West ward has said he is committed to putting the railway crossing back at the top of the Council agenda.
Former Member for Gosford and one-time Gosford mayor Mr Chris Holstein said last Wednesday he was confident he would be the "last man standing" in the battle for the third position on Council from Gosford West ward.
"The level crossing will be one of the top items on my agenda but I have got a litany of things I have to bring to Council and I have to bear in mind there will be something like 11 new councillors and they have to go through the process of being brought up to speed," Mr Holstein said.
He said he believed it was likely the extraordinary meeting to elect the Mayor would take place on Friday, September 22, followed by the first official ordinary meeting on Wednesday, September 27.
Mr Holstein would not state whether or not he was interested in the position of mayor.
"Those matters that I have on my agenda from my ward will be my priority but I still need to know everything about the issues that have been highlighted from the other wards," he said.
He said he was surprised to learn that Transport for NSW, while backing out of its commitment to replace the level crossing at Woy Woy, was going ahead with a $50 million-plus access bridge as part of its plans to put a new rail maintenance facility at Kangy Angy.
"It will be the role of the mayor to make representations to the government.
"For anyone to do that as an individual councillor is a bit presumptuous but the Council needs to get an assessment here of what they are doing and where their priorities lie," Mr Holstein said.
He said the new Council needed to "go straight to the Minister and the Premier" to address NSW Government's poor decision-making that had resulted in a $50 million overpass being planned in the middle of a semi-rural community at Kangy Angy whilst the level crossing remained on a major arterial road on the Woy Woy Peninsula.
Mr Holstein said the level crossing replacement was a matter of public safety and would be even more important with projected population growth.
"It's not just people from the Peninsula who use that road.
"All you have to do is sit near the Rip Bridge and count how many cars are coming across from Kincumber to go up to the freeway that way.
"That was well acknowledged by the NSW Government," he said.
He said those who had blamed him for under-estimating the cost of the level crossing replacement project during his campaign to become, and then during his time as, Member for Gosford, were playing political games.
"What was happening before Holstein opened his mouth about it?" he said.
"Who had done anything about it and yet I get blamed for taking the issue on," he said.
"The costings of it initially were subject to further investigation and certain factors came out," he said.
He said the reassessments of the project's costs and final cost blow-out were a NSW Government "excuse for not spending money in an electorate that was held by the Opposition".
"The level crossing replacement is needed.
"It is crucial to the transport network and for public safety.
"What a lot of people don't know is that underpass was subject to a range of traffic measures that would have to flow into the Peninsula.
"It wasn't only the underpass but a range of other traffic projects that were canned.
"I will leave it alone if people can convince me it is not needed.
"But you might as well make it snow in Woy Woy because you've got a better chance of that than of convincing me that this is not an important roads project.
"I am not over the line yet and not prepared to make too much comment until we know we are there.
"Council has got to form.
"It is very important to find out who my colleagues are, what are their issues, what is their common ground but, whoever they are, I am going to be telling them about a certain underpass down at Woy Woy.
"The new Council should be packing the mayor off to Gladys to say you've got this one wrong.
"Even the opposition would support that and, I would hope, so would the Liberal councillors.
"When I parted ways with the Liberals, one of the reasons was their failure to keep their commitments on the Peninsula."
The NSW Government originally committed $52 million in funding for the removal of the road level crossing at Rawson Rd and to provide a new road underpass at the base of Bulls Hill, connecting Woy Woy Rd to Nagari Road in addition to the construction of a pedestrian underpass from Railway St to Waterview Cr.
The pedestrian underpass, stage one of the project, was completed.
The original design for the underpass was rejected by Transport NSW, due to the impact the works would have on the northern rail line as intermittent closures were required for critical construction works scheduled over several weekends.
An alternate design for the level crossing road underpass was developed by Transport NSW and costed at $115 million.
The NSW Government subsequently stated that it would not be going ahead with the project and that it believed Council did not have the funding to match anything contributed by the State.
Central Coast Council undertook to continue to work with Transport NSW and the RMS in an endeavour to achieve a positive outcome for the community but no public statements have been made about the issue since May.
Interview, 13 Sep 2017
Chris Holstein, Narara
Media statement, 15 May 2017
Ian Reynolds, Central Coast Council
Reporter: Jackie Pearson