MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall headed east last Sunday – down the hill on Kempsey Road – with very welcome news for local residents and Armidale Regional Council.
After years of calling for improvements on Kempsey Road, Mr Marshall announced an immediate grant of $4.6 million from the NSW Fixing Country Roads program to to upgrade a 14.4 kilometre section of the infamous road, including the notorious Big Hill section.
This the largest single funding injection by a State Government on the road, since it was unceremoniously handed to council against the community’s wishes in 2008.
In addition to the funding, Mr Marshall said the government would reverse the “gifting” decision and take back the Kempsey Road within the Armidale Regional local government area, restoring its classification as a regional road all the way along, meaning council and ratepayers would no longer be burdened with the cost of marinating and upgrading the key route.
“The reality is, Kempsey Road should never have been downgraded to a local road and handed to council,” Mr Marshall said.
“I am thrilled for the locals here, who have had put to put up with a sub-standard across road for years.
“This funding will immediately widen and stabilise the worst section at Big Hill and the reclassification back to a regional road will ensure its continued improvement.
“Ultimately, Kempsey Road needs to be sealed all the way through to ensure an all-Eather all-vehicle access for local farmers, motorists and tourists.
“Council, local residents and road users have lobbied strongly for Kempsey Road to be reclassified and their victory is now in sight.
“I am very pleased to announce this funding, as the first of three stages worth around $16 million to completely overhaul Kempsey Road.
“This is in addition to the almost $800,000 project to seal the top section of the road which council is about to start.”
In January, Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey drove road to see first-hand the need for greater investment and listen to the locals.
Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray said the boost in funding would enable Council to complete extensive rehabilitation works to improve safety and reduce ongoing maintenance.
“Council in partnership with Kempsey Shire and the local community have worked extremely hard over the last 12 months to secure this funding to improve this section of the Kempsey Road,” Cr Murray said.
“This announcement is great news, particularly for local residents in the area who have had to endure less than ideal road conditions.
“The funding will now allow Council to tackle the 14.4km Big Hill section to widen the road, stabalise the hillside which will improve drainage and install safety railing.”
Published on 06 Mar 2019