A long road, but deal sealed at last
Friday, 6th February, 2015
By Erica Visser
The state government has announced $40 million towards desperately-needed upgrades and sealing works for the Silver City and Cobb highways.
The sealing of the major roads has been a painful process strung out over decades and whilst the “turbo charged” money was not enough to complete the remaining works, Minister for Western NSW Kevin Humphries was confident the remaining funds would soon be accessed.
Mr Humphries made the funding announcement yesterday morning on the outskirts of Broken Hill at the Silver City Highway, which would receive three quarters of the funding.
The money would come from Restart NSW, which Mr Humphries described as an infrastructure fund using money from “recycled assets”, such as the leasing of ports at Wollongong, Sydney and Newcastle.
The money included $4.7 million in funds that were announced for the Silver City Highway last week, including widening the road to create an aircraft landing strip for the Royal Flying Doctor Service near Shannon’s Creek.
“The Silver City and Cobb highways are vital transport and freight routes for far western NSW that help to service Broken Hill, Wilcannia and Ivanhoe, not to mention hundreds of surrounding properties,” Mr Humphries said.
The funding would be spread out over three years, with works fast-tracked to begin before the end of this financial year.
Mr Humphries said that the funding would boost Broken Hill’s appeal as a tourist destination, particularly at a time when economic diversification was greatly needed.
“One of the benefits of Broken Hill is that it’s a large, inland city. It’s a high appeal destination for a lot of people,” he said.
“... You don’t have to go to the territory, you don’t have to go to northern Queensland, it’s all here.
“Broken Hill is an ideal stepping stone to the corner.”
Mayor Wincen Cuy agreed, calling the funding a “great step forward.”
“What this announcement will actually do, from a Broken Hill point of view, is encourage more visitation with a greater reliance on being able to get to the corner.
“It’s not going to do the whole lot, but we expect that’s going to happen in the not too distant future.”
Local resident Peter Beven was yesterday among a crowd of around 30 people in high-visibility vests who listened to the announcement.
Mr Beven was clutching a folder made up of information he had collected over a 40 years pursuit to seal and upgrade the highway.
His interest was initially sparked as he ran Sturts Meadows station, north of Broken Hill.
“I’ve had this folder for 40 years, where we’ve seen a slow progression,” he said.
“Am I happy to hear this announcement today? My word.”
Representatives from organisations including Regional Development Australia and the RFDS were also present.