Council backs road beyond Nerriga

Shoalhaven City Council endorsed the ‘Beyond Nerriga Route Options Report’ at Tuesday’s Ordinary Council Meeting.

The report recommends South East Australia Transport Strategy (SEATS) and the five adjoining council areas lobby federal and state governments for funding to upgrade the Nerriga to Tarago route to B-double standard. The project is estimated to cost $250 million.

The report, undertaken by consultancy firm, GHD and project managed by (SEATS), also recommends the Main Road 92 upgrade between Nerriga and Braidwood remain a SEATS priority project.

Owner of Soilco in Shoalhaven company owner Tony Emery also supports the move to upgrade Nerriga Road.

Mr Emery’s company carries product to markets in the Monaro and Riverina and further west.

He said Kangaroo Valley, Cambewarra and Barrengarry mountains were hard on trucks and drivers.

“Just the fuel efficiency of a top gear run up the escarpment to Nerriga will be a great benefit to maintaining freight costs,” Mr Emery said.

“The road network across the Tablelands is a reasonably good standard for a regional road.

“As soon as Oallen Ford Bridge is upgraded, Soilco will definitely be using the road more often,” he said.

Shoalhaven City Mayor, Joanna Gash said the GHD report highlighted the concerns of local motorists saying it was imperative that the area continued to lobby for a high standard freight corridor to the west of Nowra.

“Shoalhaven City Council has had a longstanding commitment to assisting local industry in the moving of freight across the escarpment,” Cr Gash said.

“To haul a B-double truck from Nowra to south of Yass means adding an additional 100 kilometres to the trip by having to travel via Mount Ousley and Picton Road.

“This additional mileage results in an extra 90 minute travel time on the original journey through heavily populated areas.

“The alternate via Nerriga and Tarago will cut more than 120 minutes off that journey providing huge economic benefit to the local area.”

Shoalhaven City Council’s decision to ‘endorse’ as a priority Beyond Nerriga route options that have poor benefit cost ratios and cost over $250 million, will compete with efforts to fund Berry to Bomaderry Princes Highway duplication according to councillor Andrew Guile.

“This is only a win for politics over good policy,” said Cr Guile who has been lobbying Council to back calls for federal funding for Berry to Bomaderry.

“The Mayor had been working the phones to report several Shoalhaven businesses who would benefit from Beyond Nerriga routes. Yet if you perform the same exercise for the completion of the Princes Highway; the list would have taken all night to read out. It is this failure to put our local economy’s road funding priorities into a proper context that will confound decision makers.

“Repeated calls for even more funding from the NSW Government shows no appreciation of the investment they have already made with around $1 billion of State roads funding either spent or committed to the region over the last four years. Not one federal government cent has gone to the Princes Highway projects.

“The Member for Kiama, Minister for Roads and the NSW Treasurer have all been up front with us on future options saying it is time for the federal government to make a contribution for the final stage.

“We should be concentrating our lobbying and advocacy efforts on backing these calls rather than throwing another expensive ‘ask’ into the mix. We haven’t even called on the federal Member to support this cause while she is instead focusing on replacing the old Shoalhaven River Bridge which is a state government asset that they are obliged to replace when it reaches the end of its life.

“With work on the Berry bypass due to complete and no funding commitment for the final stage, we are in danger of having our major piece of economic infrastructure unfinished. While Main Road 92 is also unfinished, surely it is clear which project will derive the most benefits to our region. Incremental investments by councils to improve Beyond Nerriga will eventually draw more traffic volumes that will justify its completion,” Cr Guile said.

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