LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin is strongly backing Tenterfield Shire Council’s priority shovel-ready infrastructure project – sealing the final 7.11-kilometre gravel section of Mount Lindesay Road – as a game changer for the border council.
Ms Saffin believes this is an ideal project should the New South Wales or Australian governments roll out more economic stimulus funding to help local communities recover from the impacts of drought, bushfires and the ongoing challenges of COVID-19.
“There are significant cross-border tourism benefits which would flow from having a fully sealed road link between Tenterfield, the birthplace of Federation, and Brisbane and surrounds,” Ms Saffin said.
“Tenterfield currently receives 75 per cent of its tourism visitation from South East Queensland, but when southbound motorists put ‘Avoid Unsealed Roads’ into their GPS, they are taken via Warwick to Tenterfield.
“Transport for NSW has a policy of not erecting tourism directional signs along unsealed roads as well, further discouraging motorists from using the unsealed section.”
Ms Saffin noted that the full sealing of Mount Lindesay Road is a priority within Council’s 4-year Delivery Plan and in recent years good progress has been made thanks to Commonwealth and State funding. Successive councils have chipped away at achieving this goal.
Another associated benefit would be that this work would be done by Council’s outdoor staff and/or local sub-contractors, who in partnership have a proven track record in road construction and maintenance, and also in bridge replacement, according to Ms Saffin.
The stretches left unsealed include 4.91 kilometres from Bookookoorara Creek to the sealed section south of Liston, and 2.2 kilometres of difficult terrain south of the Maryland River Crossing.
Ms Saffin said the challenge for Council is that these stretches have lower traffic volumes and the difficult terrain increases the cost of the overall project, making it almost impossible to obtain a Benefit Cost Ratio greater than 1.
“As the criteria for most grants depends on obtaining a favourable BCR score, this could prove to be a major stumbling block to getting traction for what is a most worthwhile project to boost tourism and economic growth on the Northern Tablelands,” Ms Saffin said.
Ms Saffin late last year wrote to senior Ministers on behalf of Tenterfield Shire Council, asking that any BCR criteria be waived should the Council apply for grants under future rounds of road funding programs.
NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads and Infrastructure and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis responded on January 18, saying Council was responsible for Mount Lindesay Road, including all decisions on funding applications, allocation of funding and completion of works.
“While a substantial amount of the road has been sealed, some unsealed sections remain,” Mr Gulaptis wrote.
“Safer Roads Stimulus funding has been approved to seal a section of the road at Bookookoorara. I am also advised that the council allocated $600,000 of its 2020-21 Roads to Recovery funding towards a further two kilometres of sealing.
“Transport for NSW will work with Tenterfield Shire Council to explore funding opportunities for sealing the remaining sections.”
Friday, 29 January 2021.