Regional Transport and Roads Minister Paul Toole, left, Moree Plains Shire Mayor Katrina Humphries, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, Transport NSW Western Director Alistair Lunn, Construction Superintendent Steve Botfield and Director of Engineering Ian Dinham at the Washpool on the Gwydir Highway.
Friday, 5 July 2019
THE notorious Washpool section of the Gwydir Highway, about 15 kilometres east of Moree, is another step closer to being flood-proofed under a $4.5 million plan, with Regional Transport and Roads Minister Paul Toole confirming the State Government’s funding last week.
Mr Toole was in Moree at the invitation Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall to inspect the low-level causeway and other projects across the district with Moree Plains Shire Mayor Katrina Humphries.
Mr Marshall said the Washpool was one of the first sections of the Gwydir Highway to be topped by floodwaters.
“The Washpool is the first to be cut in times of flood and the road is often completely washed away, causing it to be reconstructed after every flood,” Mr Marshall said.
“This is a costly exercise, but most critically, it cuts off Moree from communities to the east and we cannot afford that once inland rail comes through as the Gwydir will be a significant freight route.
“The plan is to lift and rebuild a 1.1 kilometre stretch of the highway at the Washpool and installing box culverts underneath to allow floodwaters to go underneath the road surface.
“This should keep this section of the highway open and negate the need to rebuild it after every flood.
“I’m pleased an allocation of $500,000 was made in the recent 2019-20 NSW Budget for assessment and planning work on the project.”
Mr Toole said the Gwydir Highway linked the inland plains to the New England and was an important route for moving freight as well as local traffic.
“These flood mitigation measures may seem unusual to the communities experiencing drought right now, but all of us are hoping for rain and we know one day it will be back in abundance,” Mr Toole said.
“To avoid sections of the road being washed away and requiring replacement, sections of the road will be raised and box culverts or large drains will be installed beneath the road to allow floodwater to flow beneath the road surface.”
Cr Humphries said she was delighted with the funding to improve the Washpool.
“This has been a big issue for the Moree Plains Shire since the last big floods in 2012,” Cr Humphries said.
“Stopping this section flooding and being wrecked each time makes a lot of sense and will help keep the wheels of our local economy and the freight industry moving.”