Bypass years away

Despite calls for Tenterfield to ‘reclaim its main street’ as part of a plan to activate the local economy, the prospect of a Heavy Vehicle Bypass opening anytime in the next decade or two are remote.

While Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) is keen for Tenterfield Shire Council to preserve the bypass corridor already identified on its Local Environmental Plan, construction of this bypass will follow three other major RMS projects.

Plans for the thoroughfare are contained in the New England Highway draft corridor strategy, on which council provided feedback after the document’s release late last year.

In a report to council, Engineering Services director Stephen Bell identified the contents of the strategy that would affect Tenterfield as being the Bolivia Hill realignment (as short term, 0-5 years), along with detailed planning and property acquisition processes associated with the bypass.

Long term strategies (10-20 years) included monitoring and managing the impacts of the highway still going through the town.

“The Tenterfield Heavy Vehicle Bypass is identified as a long term priority, after the bypassing of Scone, Muswellbrook and Singleton,” Mr Bell said at the time.

“Consequently, based on what is identified in the plan, it is unlikely that the bypass will be implemented within the 20 year horizon.”

The Federal Government has committed $10 million to complete the next stage of the bypass development, which is the full detailed design, engineering and funds for land reclamation, taking place over the next three years.

The funds to actually construct the bypass still need to be committed by state and/or federal governments.

“This funding currently is not committed to or budgeted by either level of government and is expected to be in the range of $60-80 million,” council’s general manager Damien Connor said.

“The state government through the RMS have made it clear in the New England Highway Strategy that they don’t see this as a high priority with regard to bypasses, and they have placed our bypass within a 10-20 year horizon.

“Council’s role to this point – other than advocacy – has been to enable the bypass development by having the preferred route (RMS-developed) adopted into council’s Local Environmental Plan, which was done late last year.”