THE $38.5 million 'northern gateway' project, which would see the duplication of the Dawson River bridge, is one big step closer to receiving federal funding.
Yesterday it was announced that the Northern Gateway Regional Transport Hub planned for Cundletown was one of three Mid North Coast projects invited to apply to the latest round (round four) of the Regional Development Fund, the others being the Slim Dusty Centre at Kempsey and Surf Lifesaving NSW's bid for a state operations and training centre at Port Macquarie.
Taree secured two of the top finalist positions in recent federal rounds, with Greater Taree City Council invited to make full application for round three funding for the Taree Park upgrade, which would see a perimeter fence installed as well as park facilities upgraded. Round three is for smaller projects between $50,000 and $500,000.
Both the city council and Member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott have welcomed the news. "The Expression of Interest stage for round four was hotly contested with 159 applications valued at $3.51 billion being submitted just for round four," Mr Oakeshott said.
Round four provides Commonwealth funding of up to $15 million towards a project considered to bring economic and employment benefits to a region. It must have the support of state and local governments and the private sector.
The Northern Gateway Regional Transport Hub, put forward by Greater Taree City Council is collaboration with the Manning Valley Business Chamber, is a proposed freight interchange at Cundletown that has the potential to resolve freight management problems being experienced along the northern half of the Pacific Highway.
The $38.5 million project requires up to $15 million from the Commonwealth. The NSW Government has been asked to contribute $7.5 million while Greater Taree City Council will commit $10 million. The remainder will come from the private sector. Council's acting general manager, Laura Black said if successful, this project will increase opportunity for business growth and development and its importance would warrant council engaging "specialist knowledge" to prepare the final submission..
The city council is particularly pleased the Taree Park project has made it to the final round. "Council's application to upgrade the park shows that a good project that has overwhelming community support really gets the attention of the grant funders," Ms Black said.
"Council recognised this project as a real winner at the start and we are pleased how the merits of this improvement to our sporting facilities has been recognised.
"Of course we are pleased to be selected in this competitive round, especially when it is clear there were other great projects of the Mid North Coast," Ms Black said. "We look forward to continuing with our full application and thank our sports and recreation committee and other community members who have made this application possible, through their hard work."
Mr Oakeshott and fellow Independent Tony Windsor negotiated the billion dollar infrastructure fund in 2010 on behalf of regional Australia.
An earlier funding round was responsible for the upgrades of Port Macquarie, Kempsey and Taree airports.
"To have three from our community get the nod to proceed to full application is evidence of some great ground work having already been done by Greater Taree City Council, the Manning Valley Business Chamber and Kempsey Shire Council in particular," Mr Oakeshott said.