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Funding sealed: A step closer for highway

Saturday, 14th June, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

The Silver City Highway to Tibooburra is a step closer to being completely sealed, courtesy of a $50 million road improvement program announced yesterday.

NSW deputy premier and Nationals leader Andrew Stoner announced the funding at the Nationals’ annual conference in Queanbeyan.    
Despite its highway status, the 330km section of road has been sealed only in dribs and drabs by successive governments since at least the 1990s.

Part of the $50m Western NSW Freight Productivity Program will also be used to bitumise more of the Cobb Highway.

Both sections of highway are in the electorate of Member for Murray-Darling, John Williams, who yesterday said the announcement should quieten the knockers.

“Too many people are saying we’ve been forgotten,” he said.

“Well, this is an indication that we’re not forgotten, in fact that we’re a priority.”

While the funding won’t see either highway completely sealed, Mr Williams said it would go a long way to finishing a job that began, at least in the case of the Silver City Highway, many years ago.

He said roughly one third - or more than 100km - remained unsealed and when rain forces its closure the township of Tibooburra “really suffers”.  

“It’s a sizeable amount of money,” Mr Williams said.

“Obviously there’s going to be a lot of road works on these highways.”

Mr Williams said the funding had come from the leasing of Port Botany and Port Kembla, which resulted in a $5 billion windfall for the government.

Tourists journeying to the northern NSW outback and beyond are expected to benefit from the work, along with Tibooburra locals and graziers.    

“It’s the only road that connects Tibooburra to another major centre,” Mr Williams said.

William Thomson, who owns the Family Hotel in Tibooburra, said the road had improved greatly in the last 50 years but more bitumen would always be welcome.  

He said it would it cut travel time and provide greater security for tourists.  

“It would mean they don’t get frightened off when we get a shower of rain.”

Mr Thomson said the region would benefit even more if the 230km section of road between Tibooburra and Noccundra in Queensland was also sealed to create a north-south highway.

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