Tamworth Regional Council tonight will consider the first steps in a new road map of critical long-term capital works projects to drive growth and development for the next 20 years.
The council will put up a draft document that details the most critical big-ticket projects to ensure Tamworth continues to thrive, including upgraded highway sections to handle traffic bottlenecks and new dual roads to cater for increased vehicle movements.
The council will consider the infrastructure plan at its meeting tonight and according to acting mayor Russell Webb it will then go on display for public comment.
The new strategy lists some 58 critical projects identified by a series of workshops between senior council staff, councillors and private business and developer groups over a two month period earlier this year.
Among the projects are major ring roads to the north and east of the city, additional traffic lanes on the Manilla Rd and Goonoo Goonoo Rd, a southern bypass of the city, and a second access to Calala.
Chief among the transport projects voted critical to the city’s continuing growth is an upgrade of at least $25million for works at the airport.
The infrastructure workshops also pinpointed at least four major sport or recreational projects, including up to $8million more to be spent for a second stage of the equine centre, a new aquatic centre, a regional stadium and a regional water play park.
“I am really excited about this strategy. Yes, it is one of the most important documents this council has put together. These are big-ticket items that will form the pathway for our future for at least the next 15 years,” councillor Webb said yesterday.
“It is not just infrastructure in terms of roads and transport, we include the airport too because our airport will have a pivotal part in that development for not only the city but also for the region.
“We have some real challenges over the next 15 years as a growing city and unless we plan for that we will struggle to meet the needs of the future.”
Councillor Webb singled out planned projects like a ring road from the Burgmanns, Heiligmans and Country lanes routes to the Gunnedah Rd as one identified transport links.
“That’s an example of planning that we might not see for maybe 15 or 20 years but a plan that will serve us in time.”
He said social infrastructure growth had to go hand-in-hand with road, air, water, flood and drainage, open space and leisure projects listed in the plan.
“It’s just not about growing our parks or improving Fitzroy St only, we need to build on that social infrastructure to make this place a place people want to live and bring up their families,” Cr Webb said.
The strategy has been put together and will become part of future council delivery and operational plans.
While many projects haven’t been costed for the plan, it proposes a works fund of $15 million be set up, but this would be supplemented by grants, public and private funding.
The council will vote on the plan tonight but Cr Webb said he was confident that with some tweaking and changes in some delivery dates he expected the draft to be accepted.
The report describes the strategy as being put together “from the ground up” by harnessing the ideas of a range of focus groups, including development, business, real estate, arts and cultural, and transport sectors, and adding ideas from a recent sports forum.
Cr Webb said TRC needed to be strategic in its decisions and financially responsible in its approach and to stay ahead it needed to plan ahead.
“Our region has many strong leaders who have “the smarts” to know what is needed to consistently keep us on the front foot,” he said.
“It makes so much sense to pick people’s brains up front, rather than invite community input at the very end when all the hard work has been done.”