I read with great interest the 'Eye On Dubbo' column which appeared in the Daily Liberal on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. Given the debate that has raged for the past few years in relation to the project I want to clear up a few misconceptions about the River Street Bridge project.
First and foremost, the State Government isn't spending $210 million on the bridge. Thanks to the Federal Government realising the need for a second high-level crossing of the Macquarie River and joining us on an 80/20 funding model, the state investment is now $44 million with the Feds tipping in $176 million.
The mayor says Dubbo needs a ring road now. On page 20 of the 2020 Dubbo Transportation Strategy, commissioned by Dubbo Regional Council, it says "during the course of this work it has become apparent that further State investment on a bypass is unlikely to be justified even in the long term (35 years plus)".
The former Stapleton Report to 2045 commissioned by Dubbo council also addressed the issue..."Does Dubbo urgently need a ring road to take highway traffic around the city? The answer to this question is also NO." The Stapleton study is very clear on this point.
I have said on countless occasions that River Street Bridge and a bypass are separate projects, and in conjunction with the planned South Bridge and the installation of traffic lights at the Victoria and Whylandra Street intersection, are part of a wide range of work that will enhance traffic flow now and in the future.
Opponents also say there was no community consultation done in relation to the bridge. In fact, six options were put together in conjunction with the then Dubbo City Council.
What followed was uproar from residents and some council candidates about Tamworth Street being one of those options, and ultimately River Street was determined to be the best option to allow local traffic to maintain access to the city of Dubbo in a time of flood. More consultation was undertaken last year, with a pop-up shop created in the Dubbo CBD.
In contrast, South Bridge is now open for community consultation but for some reason Dubbo Regional Council has only put forward two of the four routes identified in a report funded by the NSW Government.
That isn't true consultation and ironically, the other options align to Tamworth Street, although there is no suggestion traffic from a South Bridge would ever go up Tamworth Street.
The catalyst for the River Street Bridge was the 2010 flood when it took at least an hour to cross the L.H Ford Bridge. Others talk about congestion, but there is no worse example of congestion than having one bridge to cross a flooded river.
A bypass at Troy simply doesn't solve this issue, as it directs traffic further out of town, puts a flood between that bridge and the city, and makes it a nightmare for local traffic to access Dubbo.
The River Street Bridge will provide local outcomes for local people. It will take trucks away from dangerous intersections on Erskine Street, and effectively bypasses over ten intersections, which will help keep our local roads much safer.
It provides an alternative route to the hospital precinct, especially in times of flood, and also links directly to the 'Health and Wellbeing precinct' in that same area.
There is no one magic solution to the traffic situation at Dubbo, as has been highlighted in traffic reports provided to council.
A range of solutions, working together to address different problems, is what can keep the city functioning as a hub for the region, while also servicing local residents into the future.
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