19 February 2024

Where's the cash? $4.1m for Wagga road upgrades but Labor yet to deliver on Edmondson Street Bridge pledge

| Chris Roe
Start the conversation
Labor pledged $100,000 towards repairs to the Edmondson Street Bridge during the election in 2023.

Labor pledged $100,000 towards repairs to the Edmondson Street Bridge during the election in 2023. Photo: Chris Roe.

The NSW Government has unveiled a multi-million dollar three-part program of safety and road upgrades for Wagga Wagga but there is still no sign of the promised cash to repair the Edmondson Street Bridge.

In announcing the new investment, the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison said that “road safety in regional areas is a high priority for the government” and that “the NSW Labor Government is proud to be investing another $4.1 million into safety and road upgrades in Wagga Wagga”.

Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr thanked the government for the recently completed work on Kapooka Road at San Isidore.

A new dedicated left-hand turn lane, extended merge lane and lighting at the Kapooka Road and Sturt Highway intersection have now been added after work began in November last year.

“The work at San Isidore was driven by the community who clearly wanted safer, more efficient roads in the neighbourhood and I thank the government for acting on our advocacy by delivering these important improvements,” Dr McGirr said.

READ ALSO ‘Malicious’: Embattled Murray Irrigation lashes media on drought water hoarding claims

Attention will now be focussed on new work to improve two key sections of road including the rebuilding of a 180-metre section of road on the Sturt Highway at Edward Street and further work on the intersection of Cummins Drive and the Sturt Highway at San Isidore.

“The improvements on Edward Street will also be welcomed, especially at a time when the road toll is alarmingly high, but it’s essential that business operators are fully supported to minimise disruption,” warned Dr McGirr.

“It makes sense to carry out most of the works at night to reduce the impact on businesses and road users, and I urge customers to continue to support those businesses while a safer, smoother road surface is built.”

Transport for NSW estimates that the project will benefit more than 20,000 motorists each day but has warned of disruptions and some delays.

Single-lane closures will be in place on the Sturt Highway over the next month between Lake Albert Road and Fitzhardinge Street and heavy vehicles will be directed to the alternative route via Eunony Bridge Road, Byrnes Road, Merino Road and the Olympic Highway.

READ ALSO Miss Wagga Wagga Quest puts out the call for the next generation

Meanwhile, Wagga City Councillor Tim Koshel has asked for clarification on the $100,000 promised by Labor during the April 2023 election campaign to support the Edmondson Street Bridge repair.

The retaining wall began to slip in November 2022 and one lane was closed as the pavement continued to buckle and slump.

In March of 2023, Labor candidate Kerryn Foley promised the money if her party succeeded and noted that “motorist safety should not be downplayed”.

“Thousands of motorists will be breathing a sigh of relief knowing that NSW Labor will be helping fix this bridge,” she said.

One lane and the footpath remains closed on Edmondson Street Bridge.

One lane and the footpath remains closed on Edmondson Street Bridge. Photo: Chris Roe.

When Region followed up with Minister Aitchison in September, we were told that “this government was clear on the commitments made in the 2023 election, and we look forward to making announcements later this month after the State Budget is handed down.”

The budget was delivered on 19 September and Region was directed to the Local Small Commitment Allocation (LSCA) Program but received no confirmation.

It was explained that the situation was complex as the asset in question was council-owned and that it would ultimately be rebuilt under the Federal Government’s Inland Rail mega project.

As the new year rolled in, the only allocation of funding for Wagga Wagga under the LSCA Program was $15,000 for the ‘Back to School Party’ youth concert on 27 January.

Wagga City Council’s Director of Infrastructure Services Warren Faulkner confirmed that the promised funds have been requested.

“In September 2023, council applied for the NSW Government Local Communities Small Allocation Grant of $100,000 for temporary repairs to reinstate the road pavement of Edmonson Street Bridge,” he said.

“Council have not yet heard back from the State Government regarding the results of the application.”

Again in January, Minister Aitchison’s office referred Region to the LSCA Program website.

At Monday’s (12 Feb) council meeting Cr Koshel called for clarification.

“The answer in the latest reply is that we are waiting on a government announcement on whether we’re successful or not,” he said.

“Are we able to write to the government and ask when that money is coming since it was promised?”

Stay tuned.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.