17 February 2023

'An absolute balls-up': Wagga ratepayers want three things on the election agenda

| Chris Roe
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Chris Roche

Chris Roche wants Wagga’s political contenders to back the ratepayers’ plan. Photo: Chris Roe.

Chris Roche from the Wagga Residents & Ratepayers Association says it’s time for the NSW Government to invest in Wagga’s transport future.

“These are projects for now, not another ten years away,” he said, outlining a three-fold plan released with the support of the Rural Ratepayers Association.

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The plan calls for a commitment to duplicate the Gobbagombalin Bridge, an alternate route for the Inland Rail that avoids the city, and a heavy vehicle bypass.

“We’ve looked at bringing these three plans in together because they can all be built at the same time and work together,” he explained.


The three proposed intersecting projects on the one plan. Photo: Supplied.

The need for an additional river crossing was highlighted during the recent floods when the Gobbagombalin Bridge became the only access point from the booming northern suburbs to the CBD.

“People have been talking about the Gobba Bridge for a while and it’s an absolute balls-up!” said Chris.

“We don’t want another plan, we don’t want another study, we don’t want more talk, we just want action.”

With Wagga’s predicted growth to 100,000 residents over the coming decades, Chris said that now was the time to get on the front foot rather than play catch-up later.

“They had the foresight way back in the 1930s to build the Harbour Bridge with eight lanes, why can’t they do it now?” he asked.


Detail of the northern intersection including a proposed series of roundabouts. Photo: Supplied.

The second area of concern is the proposed Inland Rail route that cuts through the middle of the city on existing tracks bringing an increasing number of long and heavy freight trains rumbling through.

“We need to keep the heavy trains out of the centre of Wagga,” said Chris.

“We need a bypass that goes around the town and incorporates the floodplains so there’s less impact on the residences.”

The final piece of the puzzle is the long-awaited heavy vehicle bypass to steer trucks around the Edward Street and Hammond Avenue stretch of the Sturt Highway.

Chris said that while the Inland Rail might replace some trucks travelling between Brisbane and Melbourne, much of Wagga’s traffic was heading to Adelaide.

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They are proposing a northern route that turns off before Forest Hill, coming north and west via Oura Road and ultimately crossing the floodplain and rejoining the highway near Pomingalarna Reserve.

“Our plan utilises existing rural roads and fire trails and it would need to construct a new four-lane road and two new bridges to cross the Murrumbidgee River,” he said.

The Wagga Residents & Ratepayers Association wants a commitment from each of the four candidates (so far) running for the seat of Wagga Wagga.

“I get that it will cost money and that these are major projects, but we want a commitment, this term, that action on these three things is going to happen.”

If Dr Joe McGirr retains his seat, Chris is hopeful that the independent member would be influential in tipping the balance of power.

“Dr Joe is extremely good when it comes to health, but we need action on these plans as well,” he said.

You can keep up with the Wagga Residents & Ratepayers Association here.

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