A “frank” meeting between Gunnedah Shire Council and state government has delivered a resolution on the town’s long-awaited, second rail overpass.
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Duncan Gay, confirmed the proposed road-over-rail bridge will stay despite significant but “totally justifiable” cost extensions.
“We, the council, the local member and state government, remain committed to an over bridge,” Mr Gay said in Gunnedah on Monday.
“We all want to get to the one place and we’ve agreed the bridge at (the) western end that goes over the rail is best way forward.
“That's what we went to the public on and that's what we intend to deliver.”
More work is required on exact costings which have reached nearly $60 million, but the first tenders will be offered in early 2017.
“We’ve still got more work to do on the scope, the costings and the actual delivery of this project,” he said.
“We need to make sure we do it with (the) least cost, in the most efficient way.
“But given the positiveness and frankness of the meeting, I think we're in a really good spot to get there.
“We’re working toward putting out tenders in the first half of next year.”
He conceded the project planning has taken longer than expected but said the cost increases, which have grown from humble $16-million beginnings four years ago, were warranted.
“[The project] has grown in scale, and I think appropriately,” he said.
“If I didn’t I would be killing the project and saying it’s ridiculous.
“I think it’s a good project, totally justifiable and one that deserves to go ahead.”
The minister said there is “passion and determination” from all parties to see this project succeed.
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said other bridges of similar size and construction were about the same price as costed in Gunnedah.
Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey agreed the estimates put forward were justified.
He looked forward to the overpass proceeding as planned to deliver the best outcomes for the local community.