ORANGE City Council is not giving up yet on redirecting $2.5 million state and federal funding for the Forest Road bridge to the southern feeder road, despite indications at least half cannot be reallocated.
Councillors resolved in November not to proceed with building a second bridge on the railway line after tenders came in almost double the amount of government funding, hoping to redirect the funds to the road.
The road is funded between Elsham Avenue and Anson Street, but according to council correspondence to the federal Department of Infrastructure, it needs to extend all the way to Shiralee Road to provide an alternate route during the bridge’s construction.
Western parliamentary secretary Rick Colless said a decision on the $1.25 million from the state government was still with NSW Roads and Maritime Services.
“I think that if the money’s going to be sitting there for another two years waiting for the go-ahead, that money should be used for something else,” he said.
“But you don’t want to forfeit one for the other, we want them both to happen.”
However, it’s unlikely the remaining $1.25 million in federal money will be transferred.
In a letter to the council in December, federal department staffer Greg Moxon indicated the bridge project was considered closed.
Mr Moxon said the money was not transferable because it was awarded under the government’s bridge renewal program and the council would have to apply again for a future round.
Member for Calare Andrew Gee said the council had not contacted him about reallocating the funds.
“It would be disappointing if the project didn't proceed,” he said.
“Money like that doesn't come around every day.”
Mr Gee said his advice indicated the money had not yet been withdrawn yet.
“I think that council now needs to consider what it wants to do,” he said.
Orange mayor Reg Kidd said the council had not abandoned the bridge project, only postponed it.
“I know they’ve got separate buckets of money, but at the end of the day, it’s all the same bucket,” he said.
Cr Kidd said further courses of action could include redirecting the money into the bridge components of the feeder road or completing as much of the Forest Road project as funds allowed.
“If [Mr Gee] gave us another $2 million, we would be over the moon,” he said.