A notorious roundabout in West Dubbo may come under scrutiny during the development of the Newell Highway Corridor Strategy.
Federal Member for Parkes and Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Mark Coulton, thinks the roundabout where the Newell and Mitchell highways meet is a “classic example” of what needs to be addressed by the strategy.
The federal government is pumping $2 million into identifying and prioritising improvements needed to support freight operators and road users on the “corridor of commerce”.
Mr Coulton said the strategy would be less about potholes and more about how the Newell Highway connected with other highways and the future Inland Rail.
“It’s more about looking at the Newell as an artery through the state and what the future might hold for it and where we might put in more investment,” he said.
Mr Coulton singled out the West Dubbo roundabout as “inefficient” and a “pinch point” that was pushing trucks off the highway.
“We see a lot of trucks bypassing Dubbo and going through Narromine,” he said.
“The state and federal governments fund the Newell Highway as a major transport link.
“If for various reasons the trucks are using an alternative route, like the Tomingley Road, then it’s putting pressure on that road maintained by Narromine Shire Council.”
Mr Coulton said the strategy would also investigate “opportunities to better coordinate the highway with rail operations, building on the far-reaching social and economic benefits of the Inland Rail”.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack said the $2 million for the strategy recognised the importance of the Newell Highway as a “corridor of commerce”.
“Many towns, farmers and small businesses throughout the Central West, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and Western NSW rely on the Newell to connect product from paddock to plate, as well as to provide a vital economic boost to communities along the highway,” he said.
The Newell Highway Taskforce is keen to work with the federal government on the strategy.
It is highlighting issues such as the repeated closure from flooding of the Newell Highway between West Wyalong and Forbes since 1950.