BARNABY Joyce has earmarked a Tamworth bypass as his big project for 2019 – a year, he said, that would still be coloured by the affects of drought.
The New England MP said work had already started on the city’s ring roads, with the upgrade of Appleby Lane and a $9.5-million five-leg roundabout near the Tamworth airport turnoff.
“I’m in discussions with council about how we move towards one of the city’s biggest projects, the Tamworth bypass,” Mr Joyce said.
“I don’t think there is any reason for large trucks to be driving through Tamworth unless they need to stop for something.
“We don’t want them here and they don’t want to be there.”
The back end of the year gifted the region with more rain than it’s seen in a long time, however Mr Joyce said the drought would still loom large over 2019.
”While it has rained, and the place is looking greener, grass by itself is not worth money,” he said.
“They’ve got to turn that grass in to protein or in to crop first.”
In his role as Special Envoy for Drought Recovery, he’s called for the federal government to extend the $1 million grants it’s handed out to drought-affected councils.
Mr Joyce also said next year he’d continue to push for a further upgrade to Chaffey Dam, to cater for the growing population of Tamworth.
The federal government committed $75 million to upgrade Dungowan Dam. However, with the state government ruling out a similar commitment due to a cost blow out, the project is unlikely to go ahead.
“If we can’t get Dungowan, let’s land the extension of Chaffey, let’s do something with that money,” Mr Joyce said.
“Otherwise it will be taken away and we won’t get it back.”
Other 2019 projects include finishing the APVMA relocation to Armidale, with the new office expected to be completed in April, and more mobile phone towers to be installed to cover the region’s blackspots.
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