There is a great lost opportunity for Dubbo with the state government's insistence of building the $210 million River Street Bridge project.
It's obvious that for a state government to spend $210 million on a bridge in Dubbo means that any chance we have in getting a ring road around the city will be decades away. In the short to medium term no future NSW Treasurer will look at Dubbo and agree to another couple of hundred million dollars for a ring road just after more than $210 million was spent on the River Street Bridge. A lot of people have asked me about this ring road proposal that the transport industry has been pushing.
In simple terms, it's about replacing the existing low-level Troy Bridge with a high-level, flood-proof bridge, with new highway constructed that wings from there out towards the airport and then back to the Taronga Western Plains Zoo area of the existing Newell Highway.
This new carriageway that would be designed to carry large trucks would move the heavy traffic completely out of Dubbo.
What makes this plan even more attractive is that it would provide a direct link from our west to a new Troy Bridge to both Dubbo's saleyards and Fletchers Abattoirs. Boothenba Road would practically become an arm of the Newcastle-bound Golden Highway. A lot of people are hesitant about ring roads.
But these days, designed appropriately, they are exactly the opposite. New businesses and opportunities are opened up along the new road. More motels, more transport enterprises (a good example is Finemores Transport that opened up on Orange's ring road).
Ever since I was first elected to council more than 21 years ago, there have been calls for Dubbo to have a larger fully served 24-hour truck stop. With Dubbo's current Highway layout through the city, it is impractical for a large fuel company to establish one of these high employment generated businesses here in Dubbo. However, that would change if a well-planned ring road were built. The new crossing of the Newell and Mitchell Highways would be further west of Dubbo which would be a naturally ideal location for a large truck stop.
With literally thousands of truck movements, and even more car movements through Dubbo each day, a large Truck Stop with several restaurants and truck drivers' facilities would be an economic boom for our city.
In my mind one of the reasons why a ring road is so important is because of safety. The reality is the current situation in West Dubbo is far from adequate. School children have to cross the Newell Highway each and every day to attend the local West Dubbo primary schools. This a potential disaster.
Dubbo needs this ring road. For us to continue to be the hub of Western NSW we need the appropriate infrastructure to back it up. For safety, for ease of traffic congestion and for growth, it's time the ring road is built.