Manning Point Road in spotlight

MORE than 60 people rallied at the corner of Manning Point and Bohnock roads to hear Greater Taree City Council mayor, Paul Hogan talk about potholes and the politics of the $12.5 million Greater Taree Roads and Bridges Package.

They stood at the intersection last Wednesday to learn why a three-kilometre stretch of road between the intersection with Old Bar Road and Bohnock Bridge would not be reconstructed as had been flagged in council's roads and bridges package.

It may be only three kilometres of road, but to the local residents who use it, it is considered essential infrastructure that is desperately in need of repair.

Statements such as "$12.5 million has been pinched from us", "It's a friggin' danger" and "Get it done. Get past all the politics and finger pointing and get it done", represent some of the community sentiment about the controversial issue.

Mayor Hogan is leading council's community education campaign about the recent loss of stage two funding of the package, totalling $11.4 million.

Council is fighting the federal government decision announced by Lyne MP, David Gillespie in December, and it wants the Manning Valley community to rally and support its push to get the funding allocation reinstated.

Council claims the money was a fully funded allocation in the 2011-2012 budget and that it had already received $1.1 million from the package to enable it to tender for the investigation, survey, design and cost estimates for each project.

The right to funds is vigorously challenged by Mr Gillespie who states that it was a hollow ALP promise and questions council's ability to manage funds and deliver its core responsibilities. Further, "he disputes the fact that money has been withdrawn, because it was never there."

Last week, Mr Gillespie said he was willing to work with council but added that "council should really be seeking a 'hand-up' and not a 'hand out', and he has written to council requesting "advice about where all the current federal funding provided to Greater Taree City Council was being spent and whether the funds are being spent as efficiently and as wisely as possible."

The fight over funding is frustrating those who are forced to use the deteriorating road on a daily basis.

It was constructed after World War II and according to council, "is now beyond council's ability to maintain on a day-to-day basis."

It says "the section of road has continued to deteriorate due to the increasing daily traffic volumes and heavy vehicle usage that is in excess of its original design parameters.

"The resulting rough, rutted, narrow and multi-patched surface presents an increased risk to all road users, specifically those visitors who are unfamiliar with existing conditions."

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