Major work is now underway to lay the foundations for the new Dubbo Bridge across the Macquarie River in Dubbo.
Early works on the project started in August 2022 with the Brisbane Street and Darling Street intersection works now nearing completion, Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders said.
"We will see the piles being driven into the bedrock of the Macquarie River, 87 or so of them, half filled with concrete to stabilise them," he said.
Mr Saunders expects the bridge to open up more housing projects, including a 6000 housing block development in the North West precinct.
"This project unlocks new developments for the city," he said.
Wiradjuri Park will also have a major upgrade, according to the MP.
"Currently the park isn't quite what it could be, that will change, it will be a park for the people and it will be enjoyed by generations to come," he said.
Mr Saunders said the bridge has been needed for some time and that could be seen when the Dubbo CBD was under threat from moderate to major flooding events multiple times in 2022.
"Thanks to great management from Water NSW only the low level bridge went under but it shows the opportunity there has been to ensure we have continuity of traffic flow including freight through the capital of Central NSW here in Dubbo," he said.
The Australian and New South Wales governments have jointly funded the New Dubbo Bridge project, which forms part of more than $1 billion in upgrades along the Newell Highway.
"I'd like to pay tribute to our Federal member Mark Coulton, who took part when it became a joint state and federal project and he was a great support," he said.
Transport for NSW Director West Alistair Lunn said it was a momentous day for his team who have worked "incredibly hard" over a number of years to get the Dubbo Bridge project to this stage.
290 jobs will be created through this project, and stimulate another 3000 within the community.
"This will benefit businesses by having that injection of staff and contractors to deliver a key piece of infrastructure," he said.
"This project will get Dubbo moving and open up the North West precinct and make it an easier place for locals and free traffic to move, so I'm really happy to announce this for Dubbo."
Federal Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King said there was something wonderful about watching a transformative project like this coming together.
"We know the people of Dubbo will stay engaged with this project every step of the way," she said.
"Crews are now ready to start constructing the bridge's permanent supports and 660-metre span.
"This will start with a drill rig that will bore holes into the bedrock beneath the Macquarie River to guide crews to drive steel tubes about 60 metres into the ground.
"From there, crews will construct the columns that will hold up the new bridge."
NSW Regional Transport and Roads Minister Sam Farraway said once the 89 piles are installed, the first massive girders would be moved into place from late 2023.
"The bridge will use 123 reinforced concrete girders to provide the framework to hold the approximately 5000-tonne weight of the bridge deck. We will really see this work start to come together in early 2024," he said.
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said it was wonderful to see work finally beginning on the foundations of the New Dubbo Bridge after "so much effort and planning" has gone into this project over many years.
"I have been actively involved in advocating for this project to proceed and am pleased to see it enter such an exciting phase," he said.
"This is a high-priority infrastructure project for Dubbo and after the flooding which occurred last year it is clearly one which cannot come soon enough.
"This project will improve road safety in Dubbo for both commuters and truck drivers by easing congestion on the main routes through town. It will also ease pressure on the L H Ford Bridge, which becomes the only way across the Macquarie during floods."
The New Dubbo Bridge is a $220.2 million investment, with major construction now starting and the project expected to be open to traffic by late 2026.
The Australian Government is providing $176.2 million for the bridge and the NSW Government $44.0 million.