The decades old problem of an alternate route to landslide-prone Waterfall Way received renewed attention from all levels of Government at a critical funding and action plan meeting on Monday afternoon, which included Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Recent flooding events have proven particularly treacherous for the sixty-two kilometre stretch of road, the main link between Bellingen and Dorrigo, leaving many cut off from surrounding areas.
To date, solutions to the alternate Eastern Dorrigo Way have proven difficult, due in part to the multi-faceted government solution required to effectively manage the issue.
Monday’s meeting brought Federal, State and Council leaders to the table to openly discuss the concerns and map out the most viable action plan.
Pat Conaghan, Federal Member for Cowper, said he was proud of the collaboration across all levels of Government.
“Seeing everyone on the same page for the good of our communities and focussing on just getting-it-done is what should always happen. This critical road crosses two local and two state government areas, so a fair and reasonable split of cost and manpower needs to be devised. I was really pleased to see our new Mayors Steve Allan and Paul Amos eager to work so collaboratively for their communities and it fills me with great hope for future discussions of this nature,” Mr Conaghan said.
“We are working with Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience, to urgently secure funding that is currently being devised for the Mid North Coast and Northern Rivers region. This tranche of funds includes transport resilience measures, and I have made it clear that this project is desperately needed and long overdue. As a collective group, all levels of government will continue to work together over the days and weeks to come and get the effective works underway.”
Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey said the community’s desire for a flood-free secondary route was a priority for the region.
“It is vitally important the plateau community has consistent access down to the coast at all times,” Ms Pavey said.
“The Eastern Dorrigo Way must also be of a standard that cattle, timber and milk trucks can use it safely. This is important for industry, farmers and local businesses.
“Along with my colleague the Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, I am committed to ensuring the Forestry section through Cascade is upgraded with minimal delays”.
Coffs Harbour City Mayor Paul Amos highlighted the lack of community access to important regional services, including health links.
“This incredibly important project will create a critically needed and resilient secondary link between the outlying townships and our important regional services here in Coffs Harbour. Whenever the main link is severed for any reason, it effects access to health services such as the Coffs Harbour Hospital,” Mr Amos said.
Bellingen Mayor Steve Allan echoed sentiments that developing a safe and reliable alternate route linking the Tablelands to the Coast is vital.
“The regular isolation of Dorrigo and surrounds caused by landslips on Waterfall Way impacts the health and safety of the community and has detrimental effects on local and regional business activity. I’m very hopeful that by working together across all levels of government we can build a solution for our community,” Mr Allan said.