"STOP thinking of Tamworth as a city of 60,000, and start planning like it's a city of 100,000."
That's the message New England MP Barnaby Joyce has for the city's residents, businesses and decision makers, as he looks to get the ball rolling on a Tamworth bypass.
Mr Joyce said a ring road was a massive piece of infrastructure Tamworth would one day need, but a development of that size had to be planned and implemented decades in advance.
"People need to understand it is very expensive to build a bypass when the people are already living there, because you have to buy the houses out," Mr Joyce said.
"So we have to start it now, well before we need it, or you'll always be chasing your tail and costing yourself more."
Mr Joyce said there were many benefits to a bypass, and already had a route in mind.
"It keeps traffic going north-south and it keeps the New England as a corridor of commerce in a strategic place," he said.
"We've got the corridor, Whitehouse Lane, we've just got to get the funding.
"I've started discussions with government about getting that funding going."
A number of residents have raised concerns that a bypass would have a negative economic impact on the city, taking business away by diverting truck drivers and travellers.
However, Mr Joyce dismissed the issue and said the city was strong enough to stand on its own two feet.
"If truck drivers get here and they want to stop, they'll stop," he said.
"Look at the price we're already paying, we've got giant trucks pouring through the middle of town, is that logical?"
Mr Joyce pointed to the rapid growth of Toowoomba in south-east Queensland, a region of more than 110,000 people, as a good example of where Tamworth was heading.
"The vision for the city is to stop thinking this is it, and to start thinking bigger," Mr Joyce said.
Earlier this week, The Leader revealed Tamworth Regional Council had pencilled in the date it wants to see the 100,000 population milestone achieved by.
"I guess, loosely, within council we have pretty much adopted 2041," Tamworth mayor Col Murray said.
With water security a major concern, Cr Murray said growing the city would force the government to invest in a more water infrastructure.
Mr Joyce has asked the federal government to do a review of the Dungowan dam upgrade cost.
A state government feasibility study found the extension to be a budget blowout, costing $440 million - almost three time more than the $150 million allocated.
Mr Joyce wants the numbers re-crunched by his federal colleagues, pointing out that much larger dams have been built or upgraded for far less.
"Are they telling me that a 20,000 megalitre upgrade at Dungowan, where there is already a dam, is going to cost $440 million?" Mr Joyce asked.