LOCAL emergency service crews have welcomed the recent announcement of the new Gunnedah overpass.
Announced on Febuary 28, the future New Street rail overpass will give crews easier access to the entire town of Gunnedah and is expected to help improve response times.
NSW SES Namoi Region controller Andrew Galvin said the new overpass would be important project for the future of Gunnedah.
“For us it provides another point of access to the entire town of Gunnedah,” Mr Galvin said.
“What the overpass is really doing is future-proofing Gunnedah and having the infrastructure in place for the town as it and the population continues to grow.”
Mr Galvin said he was confident the new overpass would help improve response times for the Gunnedah SES.
“I’m confident this new overpass will assist us in delivering the service to the community that we always have,” he said.
“Hopefully, as well as delivering the same good service, the overpass will also help improve our response times.”
Gunnedah Fire and Rescue Captain David Welch said the new overpass offers a variety of new possibilities to local emergency services.
“Under our current policy, if we are attending a call on the other side of town we must turn left out of the station and go over the Marquis Street level crossing or the existing overpass,” Captain Welch said.
“Having access at the New Street intersection gives us an opportunity to rethink those policies and develop whole new strategies and ways of getting to calls around town.
“Overall the new overpass is going to benefit everybody and hopefully improve our response times to calls in the south and western parts of Gunnedah.”
Captain Welch said it was too early to tell if construction would cause emergency service crews any delays.
“I’m not sure at this stage if there will be any traffic delays, but I’m confident if there will be we will be kept informed,” he said.
“The traffic guys do a great job of keeping us in the loop and I’m sure if there are any delays or diversions we will know and can plan accordingly."
Former Gunnedah Fire and Rescue Captain Rod Byrnes said the announcement of the new overpass was “a huge sigh of relief”.
“It seems to me to have been a long, drawn out process that has seen the budget blow-out,” Mr Byrnes said.
“But, it will save not only the emergency services valuable time but everybody within the community.”
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Mr Byrnes said it was pleasing to have helped highlight the need for a bypass.
“Well I was part of the initial discussion about having a second overpass many years ago,” he said.
“Members of the local emergency services and then Gunnedah mayor Adam Marshall got together and signed the first petition at the post office as I remember.
“So to see it finally come to fruition and finally happening is very exciting.”
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson told The Namoi Valley Independent the original reason for the new overpass was to help local emergency services.
“You have to go back several years to when the community first starting pushing for this new overpass,” Mr Anderson said.
“One of the main original reasons for it was to help emergency services get around more easily and in-turn continue to provide a quality service to the community.
“So far we have been very lucky that there hasn’t been any serious incidents that have been made worse due to emergency services being unable to get to the scene quickly.
“This overpass will go a long way to ensuring that never happens and our emergency services can continue doing an amazing job.”
Construction of the $61 million overpass is set to be complete in late 2020.