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It was resolved in Wednesday’s Council meeting that the NSW Government’s $14million Stronger Communities – Major Projects Fund will best serve the MidCoast community through investment in the region’s transport network.
The condition of the region’s roads and bridges has been the subject of a long and on-going discussion that started well before the formation of MidCoast Council in May 2016.
In community consultation undertaken by MidCoast Council late last year, the region’s transport network was highlighted as a key priority, supporting findings by independent asset experts, Morrison Low who identified a shortfall in renewal funding for roads alone, in the vicinity of $5million per year.
Glenn Handford, Interim General Manager has welcomed the funding as another step towards making a positive contribution to delivering a safer and more sustainable road network.
“Our priority is to maximise the life of our assets through a renewal program that holds our sealed roads at a satisfactory condition.
The Stronger Communities funding, along with merger savings we expect to realise over four years, provides a solid $30million investment in our roads and bridges that would otherwise not have been possible”, he said.
To be eligible for funding through the Stronger Communities – Major Projects Fund nominated projects are required to meet strict criteria set down by the State Government, which includes demonstrating a community consultation process, social and/or economic benefits, consideration for issues of sustainability and equity across the community, project feasibility and value for money.
“We’ve identified a program of priority projects across the region that will deliver benefits to our communities that are over and above what the three former Councils were in a position to fund”, Glenn added.
These include an extensive road resealing program and targeted road renewals through to 2018/19, bridge assessments and repairs targeting the 200+ ageing timber bridges still operating across the MidCoast, and a contribution to design and reconstruction of a dangerous section of Thunderbolts Way, an important freight route.
Distribution of the $14million Stronger Communities funding across the MidCoast region is proposed on an “as needs” basis that considers existing road and bridge conditions, end of serviceable life projections, and volume and load of traffic usage.
“The robust processes applied to assessing our assets, along with a need to balance renewals with maintenance, has led to a distribution that focuses on many of the older areas within the region”, Glenn said.
A preliminary schedule of works to be rolled out over the next three years sees approximately $9million allocated to Manning infrastructure, $4million in the Gloucester region, and the remaining $1million in the Great Lakes region.
The Stronger Communities roads program complements a $4million commitment by MidCoast Council to roadworks, made possible through merger savings.
Incremental works funded by savings have already commenced with reconstruction of failed roads in Combined and Dennes Streets, Wingham, and on Diamond Beach Road, as well as a major road resealing program which commenced in Tinonee in January.
“We have listened to our community who very clearly highlighted their priorities – as a result, improvement of our assets, in particular our roads, will remain our number one ongoing focus”, added Glenn.
The Stronger Communities fund was established by the State Government to provide funding to assist merged councils in kick-starting the delivery of projects to improve infrastructure and services to their communities.
These projects are part of MidCoast Council’s commitment to addressing the transport network through-out the MidCoast region.