UPPER Hunter Shire Council and Liverpool Plains Council have welcomed the announcement of federal funding to upgrade the Merriwa to Willow Tree Road.
It was announced on Wednesday that $5.5m has been made available through the Federal Governments Heavy Vehicle Productivity Funding for the project.
Both councils look forward to securing funding to start the upgrade of Willow Tree Road.
Liverpool Plains mayor Andrew Hope and Upper Hunter Shire mayor Wayne Bedggood thanked the Federal Government for the $5.5m in funds and said they looked forward to hearing of matching funds from the NSW Government in the future.
“There is a very strong case for upgrading this road,” Cr Bedggood said.
“This is about helping farmers and truck drivers get goods to markets quickly and safely.
“It’s also an opportunity to deliver much needed infrastructure that will result in cost savings to those residents and smaller businesses transporting locally produced goods and services into both shires.
“Reducing on farm costs through investment in regionally significant infrastructure ticks all the boxes at both the federal and state levels.”
“Both councils are eagerly awaiting the outcome of a further funding application with the NSW Governments Fixing Country Roads Program, further articulating the expected benefits to stakeholders across the broader regions of the Upper Hunter and Liverpool Plains Shires,” Cr Hope added.
“There are significant safety outcomes for local transport company employees with fatigue management benefit through the reduction of travel times and road condition issues being addressed.”
Both Liverpool Plains and Upper Hunter Shire Council have invested significantly in the project development of MR358 road from Merriwa to Willow Tree.
Road surface, slope, and particular divisions across the range are in need of upgrade with costs on freight vehicles impacted through road condition on the increase.
Local residents also supported the joint application as road conditions and safety to road users are of community concern.
School bus transport and local residents travelling to and from the Tamworth area to access medical and educational services also supported the joint application.
“Upper Hunter Shire Council and Liverpool Shire Council are really excited to have the opportunity to deliver solutions to industry and local communities,” Cr Bedggood said.
“Costs to local cattle producers would be reduced from over $1500 a load to roughly $900.
“Local grain producers are set to substantially benefit from this investment as well.”
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