Setback: Funding application to seal Maria River Road refused

Disappointed: Northside Progress Association president Carla McKern says the group is disappointed that a funding application to seal Maria River Road was not successful. Photo: Peter Daniels
Disappointed: Northside Progress Association president Carla McKern says the group is disappointed that a funding application to seal Maria River Road was not successful. Photo: Peter Daniels

The Northside Progress Association says it is 'disappointed' that a joint application for funding to seal Maria River Road has been knocked back.

Association president Carla McKern said North Shore and Crescent Head communities had high hopes for a successful application between Port Macquarie-Hastings and Kempsey Shire councils.

"Emergency services are regularly called out to accidents on the gravel road while residents along that stretch have serious vehicle maintenance issues.

"They (the two councils) have spent more money on maintaining the road and could have made savings if it was a decent, sealed road. It is a dedicated road, afterall."

Mrs McKern also said at critical times - if the ferries are not operating - Maria River Road is the sole road link for the some 1500 residents who live on the north side.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's director infrastructure Alex Fisher, said council was notified by Kempsey Shire Council on December 20, 2017 regarding the unsuccessful joint funding application for the upgrade of Maria River Road.

"Feedback received from Transport for NSW regarding the application outlined that the safety and economic benefits generated by the upgrade didn’t significantly out-weight the capital cost required to warrant the investment of state funding," Ms Fisher said.

"Council will continue to explore the management and future investment of all our unsealed roads across our Local Government Area.

"Council has identified an operational plan action being, ‘Undertake broad analysis of priorities for sealing of unsealed roads (multi-year project)’ in the 2017/18 operation plan to take a more strategic view of our unsealed road network to ensure any future investment is appropriately allocated."

The problem is not going away, and neither are we.

Northside Progress Association president Carla McKern

Ms Fisher said council will continue to explore funding opportunities for these works, both with Kempsey Shire Council and independently as they arise, noting each grant funding program has certain criteria that must be met in order to be eligible for funding and each program is competitive whereby projects with higher demonstrated benefit are prioritised first for the limited amount of funding available.

Despite the association's disappointment, the campaign to seal the much-used road will continue.

There were a number of reported accidents over the Christmas holidays with a three-fold increase in travellers using the gravel road to Crescent Head.

The association will keep talking with the two councils about funding availability and options.

Kempsey Shire Council said it was formally advised in late December that the joint application with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council for grant funding to seal Maria River Road had been unsuccessful. 

"The February 2018 council meeting is the first opportunity to report this outcome to the councillors and present options for alternative grant streams and approaches to improve the projects Benefit Cost Ratio, council's manager engineering works, Tony Green said.

"Once we have confirmed a position we will then liaise further with our colleagues in Port Macquarie as to how the project can be progressed.”

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