PORT Macquarie-Hastings Council's general manager has called on state MP Leslie Williams to consider committing to funding half the cost of an orbital road strategic business case before it makes a decision on the future of the proposal.
It comes after Mrs Williams agreed that Port Macquarie needed a long-term solution to increasing traffic congestion, but urged council to reconsider the proposed route it is currently seeking community feedback on.
General manager, Craig Swift-McNair, wrote to Mrs Williams last week seeking a funding contribution of $400,000 for the development of a strategic business case, to match the $400,000 recommended in council’s draft 2019-20 budget.
Mr Swift-McNair said that this is a long-term strategic project, and there are many decision points to come before progressing to route selection, detailed design and ultimately construction.
“Our community is saying loud and clear they want council to improve our road network so we can better manage increasing traffic volumes now and in the future. Property owners in the investigation zone are also telling us, quite understandably, that they need to have certainty on the proposed road including a final route as soon as possible,” Mr Swift-McNair said.
“With this in mind, we are working now to ensure that if council does decide to proceed to the next stage of the project and develop a strategic business case commencing mid-year, then we will have the money to proceed immediately."
Our community is saying loud and clear they want council to improve our road network so we can better manage increasing traffic volumes now and in the future.Craig Swift-McNair
Mrs Williams said the timing of the council request for funding was "interesting to say the least" given the government is two weeks out from an election.
"It seems premature to seek approximately $400,000 in funding from the state government when according to council community consultation and engagement is ongoing," Mrs Williams said.
"I note that Monday’s Port News (4th March 2019) stated ‘the issue, following extensive consultation, will be presented to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council in June for a decision. That decision will confirm if the proposal moves forward to more strategic planning’.
"Of course, my response to the correspondence will be entirely dependent on the outcome of the 23 March election. Should I be re-elected as the Member for Port Macquarie I will look forward to continuing to work with council to get the best outcomes for our community."