THE second stage of the southern feeder road is now able to progress to tenders after the state government boosted its contribution to more than $10.7 million.
Orange mayor Reg Kidd said the 720-metre realigned road and 23-metre rail bridge would improve safety for heavy transport.
“This section is a critical section because you come off the Mitchell Highway, down Blowes Road and then you’ve got to negotiate going to the industrial area and over a railway line and over a creek, which is quite dangerous,” he said.
Deputy premier John Barilaro and Roads Minister Melinda Pavey announced $3.4 million in June, but it was only enough to complete half the bridge.
The amount was later increased to $5.4 million, taking into account a previous $2 million promise from former member for Orange Andrew Gee, and Orange City Council started the process to have the $1.25 million apiece from the state and federal governments for the over-budget Forest Road bridge duplication put into the road instead.
But western parliamentary secretary Rick Colless confirmed on Monday the latest addition was all fresh money.
“[The bridge] is a separate project and certainly not part of the $5.36 million,” he said.
“It’s been something that’s been on Orange council’s agenda for a number of years.”
The total project cost will be $16.9 million, including $5.7 million from industry and $400,773 from the council, with the section to join the first stage between Forest Road and Anson Street.
Asked how much Shooters, Fishers and Farmers member Phil Donato contributed to the funds, Mr Colless said it was not about the MP or himself.
“What it is about is the community receiving the funds they need through good financial management by the government – these projects are being rolled out right across NSW so it’s not just Orange where this money’s coming to,” he said.
By contrast, Mr Donato believed his win at last year’s byelection did contribute.
“The government wants to win it back, I’m trying to protect it and these are the benefits that will be delivered to the community,” he said.
The project was one of five in the Orange electorate successful under the state government’s Fixing Country Roads program.
Banjo Paterson Way received $4 million for widening, improving the culverts and trimming overhead trees.
“That’s long been recognised as a road needing attention,” Mr Colless said.
Parkes receive $1.2 million for the Little Trundle Road and the Bogan Way, while Centroc received $1,087,500 for a research project assessing the safety of 145 bridges and culverts across the region.
“That’s going to be really important going forward for identifying all those bridges that need upgrading and ultimately replacing,” Mr Colless said.