Funds 'available immediately' for Manning roads and bridges

Acting mayor Robyn Jenkins expressing Greater Taree City Council's gratitude at the funding announcement on Wednesday (July 9).
Acting mayor Robyn Jenkins expressing Greater Taree City Council's gratitude at the funding announcement on Wednesday (July 9).

NOW its request for funding to be transferred from the Northern Gateway project towards funding roads and bridges work has been approved, the next step for Greater Taree City Council is to sign the official paperwork and then call for tenders.

"We are absolutely delighted about the outcome," said councillor Robyn Jenkins, in her last official role as acting mayor before handing back over to mayor Paul Hogan, who returned from leave during the week.

"We will ensure the $10 million will be speedily put to good use on these very worthwhile projects... and get to this as quickly as reasonably possible."

Council was well represented at the funding announcement with acting general manager Ron Posselt, executive leader of corporate support Laura Black, senior leader of asset planning Phil Miles, acting mayor Robyn Jenkins and councillors Trent Jennison and Kathryn Bell attending.

In announcing the funding, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the money was "available immediately" for council to proceed on the works.

Mr Posselt said the projects were ready to go to tender and that while they anticipated the cost of replacing the Dyers Crossing bridge will be about $3 million, it would depend on what tenders come in.

"It could be that the cheapest tender that comes in is for $4.5 million. So we need to think about that."

Council has already completed the preliminary work for the bridges at Dyers Crossing and Dickensen's Bridge at Moto, along with other projects that were part of Greater Taree's original Roads and Bridges Package.

Member for Lyne David Gillespie said "no one has any argument that the roads and bridges need a lot of work" and acknowledged that Greater Taree City Council was under pressure to address those issues.

He said the $10 million had been "on the table" for the Northern Gateway project but from his information it "isn't right yet" and "required co-funding from the State government and so far that has not been forthcoming".

Council wrote to the deputy prime minister in June asking for that pool of money to be transferred from the Regional Development Fund towards its "shovel-ready" projects in the Roads and Bridges Package.

With the request approved, council has been asked to sign up to the transfer by November to make sure it happens.

"Obviously a lot of work needs to be done," Mr Truss said.

The idea to transfer the funds from the Gateway to the roads and bridges was flagged by Dr Gillespie earlier this year.

Mr Truss said council has already spent $1.1 million on preliminary works, which included drawing up plans.

"They should be design ready and ready to start immediately."

Mr Truss also took the opportunity to highlight the federal government's Bridges Renewal Program, for which applications are now being called.