GUNNEDAH is one step closer to securing its long-awaited rail overpass with tenders for the $61 million project officially opening today.
The announcement was made at the future site of the overpass on Wednesday afternoon by Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey.
Mr Anderson said the project was the biggest in Gunnedah’s history.
“This is a significant day for Gunnedah,” Mr Anderson said.
“This is a significant project, probably the biggest project that Gunnedah will ever see.
“It really is a significant milestone for Gunnedah and the community.”
The announcement comes after six years of efforts to get the construction over the line.
Originally proposed as a $16 million project in 2012, the project has seen delays caused by budget blowouts and community concerns both environmental and economic.
“There have been a lot of environmental hurdles,” Mr Anderson said.
“There have been issues that have arisen from flooding, as well as some issues relating to it’s location.
“As well as issues with access, the original design didn't have access off the overpass to Barber Street, which effectively cut off those businesses in and around the overpass.”
Local emergency service crews are in line to greatly benefit from the new overpass.
“When trains are coming through and we see a bank up of traffic particularly at the New Street crossing for emergency services that is a big problem,” Mr Anderson said.
“Time is critical and if there is an emergency on the other side of Gunnedah, emergency services can’t get through and are having to go around the long way.”
Cr Chaffey said there had been a lot of community interest in the project.
“It will really open up the road network to the region and allow our community to have greater road freight pass through,” Cr Chaffey said.
“It’s very exciting.
“Right throughout the community we will see benefits from the project’s construction, including accommodation, materials supplied in the region and local businesses sub-contracting to other trades working on the project.
“We have also already received $3 million of funding for a new roundabout on Warrabungle Street, which is the official kick off of this project.”
Mr Anderson said the new overpass will also improve road safety.
“The new route will replace the existing New Street level crossing, which will be permanently closed as part of this project,” he said.
“The project will not only improve heavy vehicle access through Gunnedah, but also result in safer trips for all road users.”
The Tamworth MP said construction is expected to begin later in 2018.
“Tenders for the project open today and it is a two month tender process for businesses submit a tender,” Mr Anderson said.
“We would hope to see some activity on this site later this year and then it is about an 18 month to tow year build so maybe by December 2020 we will see this amazing piece of road infrastructure built.”
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