After almost two months and the biggest flooding this area has seen in around seven decades, the major highway linking Victoria and Queensland has finally reopened south of Forbes.
Forbes Mayor Phyllis Miller has welcomed the reopening of the Newell Highway, saying that it has been a massive and combined effort between Transport for NSW and surrounding shires. Minister for Roads Sam Farraway MLC was in Forbes on Monday to officially announce the reopening.
“It is so important for the Newell Highway to be open, and never more timely as schools are breaking up and travellers are on the move for the Christmas and holiday season,” Cr Miller said.
“It also means easier, more time and cost-efficient movement of freight up and down the transport corridor,” she said.
“It will be a great benefit to our township to bring back travellers who had previously delayed travel because of the closure. It will be wonderful to welcome back even more tourists, families, freight operators as our town itself recovers from the prolonged floods,” Mayor Miller said.
She has warned, however, that while the highway is open, to allow for additional travel time – at least 20 minutes, as work continues to restore large sections heavily damaged by the floodwaters.
“There are sections with reduced speed limits to allow for roadworks and damaged surfaces so please be aware of these. Most importantly, drive to the road conditions and plan ahead,” Mayor Miller said.
She thanked all the road crews who have worked tirelessly, and will continue to do so, and Weddin and Bland Shire Councils for their support on the road network, and to Deputy Premier the Hon Paul Toole MP.
“Paul Toole is always very mindful of looking after our regional areas, especially with a major highway like the Newell. Many thanks to him for his ongoing support during these difficult times,” she said.
Mr Farraway acknowledged how difficult the extended closure has been, stating that to date over 10,500 tonnes of asphalt has been used just to get the highway to this stage.
“This is a short-term solution to open the road before Christmas,” Mr Farraway said.
“Extensive work will be required on this section of the corridor for a number of months, with crews also continuing to work right up to Christmas.”