Hope grows for new Dixons Long Point crossing
It has been talked about for 100 years, but now a new crossing at Dixons Long Point is closer than ever, said Member for Orange Andrew Gee.
At a doorstop interview outside his Orange Electorate Office on Friday, Mr Gee said there had been good progress made on the project to upgrade the direct road between Orange and Mudgee. Currently, the road is unpaved and the rocky river crossing at Dixons Long Point makes it accessible only to four-wheel-drive vehicles. Sealing the road and constructing a new bridge could save as much as 45 minute off the trip to Mudgee.
Mr Gee said consultants have now completed concept designs and costings for a number of options to upgrade the road and he believes they have a good shot at attracting funding through the federal government’s new Roads of Strategic Importance program.
“The project has now been progressed to a concept design stage and a range of options have now been costed. Now the most expensive option, which is basically a freeway through Dixons' Long Point, I've got to say, is probably not going to happen, that is not going to stack up but we have had some very, very positive results from some of the other proposals,” Mr Gee said.
The preferred option, a bridge over the Macquarie River at Dixons Long Point along with the paving of 40 kilometres of road would cost $19.5million, he said.
A culvert crossing would be cheaper, costing $12.5 million, but Mr Gee said a bridge would be a more lasting solution for the region.
“The type of bridge we would want is one that would only be flooded every five years or so. We could go for a lesser option that would be a culvert crossing that would be cheaper, but that would be flooded every two years or so,” he said.
“I think if you are going to be spending tens of millions of dollars, you may as well get the extra coin and do it properly and build something that will last much longer and won’t be as prone to flooding.”
Mr Gee said their analysis shows upgrading the road would have significant benefits for the region.
“[It would] basically open up the central west for all types of things, for business, for commerce, for tourism and just generally improve connectivity between those two regions. I think there are great, great opportunities here in terms of bringing the Central West together and opening it up for travel, for commerce, for medical services, for mining services — the benefits just keep flowing.”
Mr Gee said they are preparing an early application for funding through the Roads of Strategic Importance program, which he expects will open in the next two months. If all goes well, there could be good news by the end of the year, he said.
“I'm optimistic, but it's not over the line yet. We’ve done the homework but the big one is actually bagging the cash for this, to finally get this project going after 100 years,” Mr Gee said.
“We are going to have to knock on a lot of doors and sit outside some ministers offices, but I think we can do it... if we can do it, wow, we will have achieved something that no one was able to do for a hundred years and we will build something lasting for our communities and bring our communities closer together.”