Dubbo residents wishing to view key new documents about the planned River Street bridge will not be able to do so at any public facility of Dubbo Regional Council.
The council has confirmed it declined a request from Transport for NSW to display the submissions report for the major Dubbo project at various council facilities.
The refusal has "disappointed" Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole, who labelled it as breaking "long-standing convention" and raised concerns about why the council was making it harder for the public to read the report.
But the council defended its actions, saying a number of its own projects were in public exhibition phases and it was decided its "focus must be to engage residents on those council projects".
The episode is the latest display of the two levels of government being at odds about the major piece of infrastructure, designed to keep traffic flowing during a one-in-50-year flood.
The NSW government set aside more than $140 million for the project.
But its chosen location sparked opposition from some community members and the council, which in a split decision resolved to look at ways to stop the project in September.
The submissions report is available for public viewing online or by contacting Transport for NSW, but the department's efforts to also have the documents available at the council facilities was unsuccessful.
"I was disappointed to learn that Dubbo Regional Council has refused to allow public display of the submissions report for the $140 million New Dubbo Bridge project," Mr Toole said.
"This is a massive investment in Dubbo, which will not only make it easier for the community and emergency services to move around during a flood event, but will reduce congestion, create 400 jobs and stimulate local businesses at a time when the community is doing it tough from drought.
"I am aware that council has some reservations about this project, but this breaks long-standing convention and raises concerns as to why Dubbo Regional Council is making it harder for the community to read Transport [for NSW]'s responses to their submissions on this important project."
The Daily Liberal asked the council to confirm or deny it first advised Transport for NSW it could have space in council buildings to display the report and related documents, as it had been during last year's submissions phase, and then the next day reversed its decision.
The Daily Liberal also asked the council why it was restricting access to information about the major city project, and if it was censoring.
In response, a council spokesperson said a number of separate requests were made to various council facilities by Transport [for] NSW to display its report on the New Dubbo Bridge project.
"These requests were forwarded for consideration to department managers," the council spokesperson said.
"With a number of council projects in public exhibition and consultation phases, it was decided council's focus must be to engage residents on those council projects.
"Engagement with the community on the New Dubbo Bridge project is the responsibility of the government and [Transport for NSW] and it is disappointing the minister has sought to divert that responsibility to council."
Community members who wish to view the submissions report or other collateral relating to the Building a Better Dubbo upgrade program are able to do so by visiting nswroads.work/dubbo, or can contact Transport for NSW on 1800 803 818 or email email@example.com and will have the requested project documents posted to them.