Wagga City Council has been caught short by the recent boom in Wagga’s northern suburbs and has agreed to an urgent rejig of planned road upgrades to accommodate the growing population.
At Monday night’s council meeting, budget changes were approved for the Pine Gully Road Corridor project, which will see traffic upgrades focused around the new Estella Public School on Estella Road.
“The school drove the changes, it was never planned to go on Estella Road, it was actually on Avocet,” explained council director of infrastructure services Warren Faulkner.
“It was originally intended to have a roundabout at the western end of Estella Rd, but given the school’s there now and the draw of kids to cross safely across Pine Valley Road, this has driven the need for traffic signals.”
The new set of lights at the Pine Gully and Estella roads intersection will help protect children walking and riding to school from Gobbagombalin, and a two-lane roundabout will be installed at the other end of where Estella Road meets Boorooma Street.
School traffic currently flows east through the drop-off lane and many parents wishing to return to Gobbagombalin choose to perform a U-turn at the edge of the school zone.
“We’re looking at a roundabout there for when the people exit Estella Public School and all have got to travel east to that Boorooma St to then be able to turn around and go back,” Mr Faulkner said.
The new primary school opened in 2021 and anyone driving along Estella Rd, Boorooma St or Pine Gully Rd during school drop-off or pick-up knows how slow it can be and the growing numbers of children.
Mr Faulkner said that while the school accommodated 480 students, numbers were capped until infrastructure caught up.
“They’re not to enrol more than 235 until such time as they’ve made contributions to us for infrastructure upgrades,” he said.
“With the growth that’s occurring up there, I expect that those numbers probably will be more than 235 for this time next year.”
There will also be additional upgrades to Estella Rd up the hill on the west side of the school, and Boorooma St will be widened to four lanes between Avocet Dr and Farrer Rd.
The increased costs are expected to be in the millions and in addition to talks with School Infrastructure NSW, the council will recoup some costs from developers looking to further expand in the Northern Growth Area as well as maintenance grants from the State Government.
Mr Faulkner acknowledged that the time had passed for contributions from the existing developments to compensate the city for the unforeseen traffic requirements, but he said the council was paying close attention to upcoming projects to the north and south.
“Unfortunately, the contributions cap that’s on developers in terms of the payments they can make, we still have a shortfall there, so that one hasn’t been resolved yet, but certainly doing that work now identifies what’s required for the future.”