The upgrade of Rangari Road has reached a milestone, with preliminary geotechnical work set to start this month.
Gunnedah Shire Council has issued a notification of the works, which will begin on January 18, but it's still unclear who will meet the some of the $12.9 million cost of the project.
Gunnedah Deputy Mayor Rob Hooke said the community had walked a long road to get to the milestone of the start of preliminary investigation works for resurfacing of the dirt road.
"It has been so long coming. It started off really quite a number of years ago with council putting in an application, very fortunately that application, through Fixing Country Roads, was accepted," he said.
Council road crews are set to start laying bitumen in June or July this year.
The state government will fund all but $2.5 million of the scheme, but Cr Hooke said Gunnedah council will struggle to find funding to fill the remaining budget shortfall.
"Council decided we'd pick up the ball and run with the money that we have and in the meantime negotiate with state and federal governments to try to fill in that shortfall," he said.
"To have the majority of the road sealed is going to be far better than having none of it done. It'd be stupid to cut off our noses to spite our face. The money is there, it's there to be used."
It's hoped the new road will help both agriculture and mining businesses in the area, plus improve safety for local residents.
The road links Boggabri and Manilla, and locals estimate more than 100 cars and trucks use it everyday.
"It's going to be such a wonderful link, with access through to Boggabri, Narrabri, joining Gunnedah and especially the northern part of Gunnedah. There are a lot of people travelling that way now," Cr Hooke said.
"The fact that Gunnedah shire is also developing the last part of the Kelvin Road to come in onto that road means we've got car access east and west and north and south across our shire."
The geotechnical work will be conducted about 3.8km east of the border with Tamworth Regional Council and will continue for the full length of the road in the Gunnedah local government area.
The investigations will inform the pavement design for the widening and sealing of about 20km of Rangari Road.