A study that will guide funding priorities for the Newell Highway is about to begin, and Forbes is campaigning for a good look at the flood issues that caused a six-week closure in 2016.
The Federal Government has announced PwC will deliver the study and councillors from Bland and Moree lead community consultation.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals’ Leader and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Strategy will provide a comprehensive picture of the current performance and future challenges along the Newell Highway.
Efficient outcomes in the movement of regional freight, as well as challenges such as road safety and flooding, and the relationship between the Newell Highway and Inland Rail will be key to its inquiries.
Mr McCormack said community, local government and industry involvement will be central to the strategy.
“Bland Shire Councillor Tony Lord and Moree Plains Shire Mayor Katrina Humphries – two experienced and respected local Councillors from either end of the Highway – will head the community consultation to encourage locals to get involved and have their say,” Mr McCormack said.
“A number of workshops will be held along the corridor at different locations so vital local knowledge can inform outcomes and recommendations of the Strategy.”
Mayor Phyllis Miller said she supported the study into the Newell Highway and the flood issues that saw it cut south of Forbes for six weeks in late 2016, but described the $2 million funding for it as “a spit in the ocean”.
“The stretch between Forbes and West Wyalong has long been the worst affected area for flood damage to the Newell and it needs representation in this study,” she said.
“The money spent on repairs to this road could be better spent elsewhere.
“We do assume Forbes will be included in the consultations conducted by the study or we will be very disappointed.”
The Australian Government is spending $2 million on the Newell Highway Corridor Strategy.
“A better Newell Highway will mean more competitive agricultural and mining sectors, thanks to a more reliable freight network through regional New South Wales,” Mr McCormack said.
Further details about the Newell Highway Corridor Strategy, including its objectives, can be found at https://infrastructure.gov.au/roads/
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