Koala bridge promised as part of Labor's $55m Appin Road safety upgrade commitment

Big bucks: Macarthur MP Michael Freelander and Cunningham MP Sharon Bird announce $50m funding promise to upgrade Appin Road and $5 million for a koala overpass if Labor is elected. Picture: Sylvia Liber
Big bucks: Macarthur MP Michael Freelander and Cunningham MP Sharon Bird announce $50m funding promise to upgrade Appin Road and $5 million for a koala overpass if Labor is elected. Picture: Sylvia Liber

One of Macarthur's most notorious roads will receive a koala crossing and $50 million in safety upgrades under a Labor government.

Macarthur MP Dr Michael Freelander and Cunningham MP Sharon Bird and announced the funding for Appin Road and $5 million for a koala 'sky bridge' today (Wednesday, April 17).

The money could be used for lane widening, shoulder widening, additional lanes and safety upgrades, with the final package of works to be guided by the planning work being undertaken by the state government.

Last election, Labor made the same commitment and then Liberals matched the funds.

Dr Freelander said Macarthur had one of the only chlamydia-free koala populations in Australia and the colony was thriving.

"However, we are increasingly losing them to road accidents, especially during mating season," he said.

"Part of the money will be used to create a land bridge connecting the Nepean River side to the Georges River side which will save koala plus other native fauna."

Koala Rosie was hit by a car on Appin Road in 2016. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Koala Rosie was hit by a car on Appin Road in 2016. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Prominent local koala campaigner Ricardo Lonza - administrator of the Help Save the Wildlife and Bushland in Campbelltown Facebook page - praised the announcement.

"I think it's a great announcement as long as they put it in the right place," he told the Advertiser.

"It can't go just anywhere.

"The koalas have a specific route that they take to get from A to B."

Mr Lonza said if Labor was elected and the sky bridge went ahead there would need to be extensive consultation with wildlife experts to ensure the overpass was constructed in the right place.

Ms Bird said Appin Road was a "big commuter road" and "a lot of people from south-western Sydney come down using the road for the tourism offerings" in Wollongong.

"That is an important economic link," she said.

"We need to make Appin Road a more efficient, reliable and safer road."

Dr Freelander said the number of heavy vehicles would increase with the development of the Western Sydney Airport.

"The trade links are rapidly expanding between Macarthur and the Illawarra so there are more heavy vehicles using Appin Road," he said.

"Many people have lost their lives on the road in the past 30 to 40 years including some I knew very well.

"That is because the road is unsafe. We are all human, we all make mistakes when we are driving and tired and the road is difficult.

"We don't want any more people to lose their lives."

The MPs hope the Liberal government match Labor's commitment.

"It was good last election, Labor announced $50 million and not long after the Liberal Party matched it," Ms Bird said.

"It would be nice if they matched our commitment again.

"We will certainly be pressuring the government to do the same."

Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten, transport spokesman Anthony Albanese and Labor's Macarthur MP Dr Michael Freelander when they announced $50m for Appin Road in 2017. Picture: Chris Lane

Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten, transport spokesman Anthony Albanese and Labor's Macarthur MP Dr Michael Freelander when they announced $50m for Appin Road in 2017. Picture: Chris Lane