FEDERAL funding for the upgrade of the Bolivia Hill section of the New England Highway is still in place, ending uncertainty over whether the $80 million was still forthcoming.
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said no one had said the funding wasn’t there.
“Unless someone says it’s not there, it remains as it is,” he said.
“The first person to find out it wasn’t there would be me and that hasn’t happened. It was a line item in the budget, so it would require a substantial change for it not to be there.”
The stretch of the New England Highway has been witness to numerous accidents, including fatalities, and has been described as a “death trap”.
Tenterfield mayor Peter Petty was delighted with Mr Joyce’s confirmation of the funding.
“This is great news,” he said.
“I will be speaking to Barnaby next week and thanking him.”
Mr Petty said the families who had lost loved ones on that stretch of road had been fighting hard for this and it was well known as a black spot.
In the last federal budget $80 million was allocated to realign the section of road, with $20 million to come from the state.
Mr Petty said he hoped he would get the same news about the Tenterfield heavy-vehicle bypass.
The Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has identified a preferred route for the realignment of Bolivia Hill, out of 10 initial options.
Route 7b is the preferred one as it provides the best value for money, among other reasons, at an estimated cost of $60 million.
This route is 1.64km long and includes one northbound lane and one southbound lane, with two-metre-wide road shoulders on either side to allow maintenance trucks to safely park beside the traffic lanes.
Route 7b also includes a cantilevered concrete structure, in parts, to assist in widening the road reserve and straightening out the bends in the steepest section of the highway, and a bridge up to 360m long to ensure the road avoids the creek line.
An RMS spokesman said the proposed Bolivia Hill upgrade would improve road safety and travel reliability along the New England Highway, by removing two corners to straighten the route and allow for a higher speed limit.
“Identifying the recommended preferred route is an important step in this process and community feedback will help the RMS develop the next stages of planning,” he said.
“Planning activities can take a number of years and involve continuing consultation with stakeholders, including the community and council, to enable clear project outlines, benefits and a cost estimate to be developed in preparation for building.”
He said a recent information session in Glen Innes had 11 people attend who provided minimal feedback.