Federal bridge money ‘a good opener’

THE $10 million toward a new Nowra Bridge is a good opener for the state to sure-up more federal funds, according to a senior Shoalhaven City Council staff member. 

Treasurer Joe Hockey announced in last Budget $10 million for planning another bridge over the Shoalhaven River at Nowra.

Council’s economic development officer Greg Pullen said the $10 million would allow the state government to follow through and negotiate with the Commonwealth to put substantial funds into that construction.

Mr Pullen said with the next biggest piece of infrastructure being the Shoalhaven River crossing, it was vital the federal government understood how important it was to the region.

“Council can’t apply for Commonwealth money but we would encourage the community to become aware this is a critical piece of infrastructure and budgets are tight.

“We all need to help get this money,” he said.

“However, it is a logical step if the Commonwealth is putting money into that for planning it would be there when work starts.”

Mr Pullen said he would like to see council offered details of the long-term roads funding submission.

He said the state government lodges a submission to the federal government for funds, however local government was not privy to those details.

He said council had asked for the information in the past but he could not remember if it had been shared in at least a decade. 

“[Funding submissions] are done at a senior cabinet level,” he said.

“They’ve got timetables and strategies and we’d like to know the strategy. We’re talking multi-million dollar projects. 

“If council is going to go in there and lobby we’ve got to be on the same page,” he said.

Mr Pullen acknowledged the lobbying done by councils in the region and the community to commit to four lanes from Berry to Jervis Bay Road.

“That has been very good in the last 10 to 15 years; all councils in the region and lobby groups argued for that,” he said.

“That road is a state government road but there has been quite a deal of federal money put into the region’s roads.

“The bridge over Minnamurra River, the work at Mount Conjola and the Falls Creek Bridge, those works were substantially federally funded.

“On a project by project basis we’ve been quite successful in securing funds,” he said.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward said he would continue to fight for state funds no matter who was in government.

“My job is to get the best outcomes for our area,” he said.

However he said the bridge was still in the planning process and what was happening now was appropriate.

“This is a massive project. You need to do the groundwork and planning first. You can’t just add water. 

“We are absolutely committed and we’ll be making sure we get our fair share.”

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