ONE major project earmarked as ticking all the boxes in the Port Macquarie-Hastings region's COVID-19 recovery is the construction of the long-awaited Ocean Drive duplication.
The "shovel-ready" project is however, facing a $30 million funding gap risk and moves will now be made to secure Federal Government support.
Council is planning to upgrade around 3.4 kilometres of Ocean Drive from two lanes to four lanes between Matthew Flinders Drive to Greenmeadows Drive (south).
Councillors agreed unanimously that the general manager and mayor commence detailed discussions with the Federal Member for Cowper, Pat Conaghan and the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, to secure the required additional funding to commence the project.
A council report on the project tabled at Wednesday night's (May 20) council meeting identifies a funding gap risk of $30 million now that Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has opted out of delivering the regional road project.
The State Government's funding commitment is capped at $60 million.
Cr Justin Levido said Ocean Drive will be key in kick-starting the region's economy and recovery post bushfires and COVID-19.
"This is an interesting matter with an interesting history," Cr Levido said of the project which has been in the hands of council since 2010-11.
"Its a very good project and the most shovel-ready project we've got. It will deliver significant financial benefits to our area."
The Ocean Drive duplication is a key project initiated with a State Government special grant of $10 million following an election commitment in 2011.
As a regional road, TfNSW and council partnered through a joint steering group to develop and govern the project.
A further $50 million was granted by the State Government following an election commitment in 2019 bringing its total contribution to $60 million. A further $1.8 million has already provided for the design and pre-construction works, including the completion of the detailed business case.
Council has also allocated up to $5.5 million to the project, bringing the total available budget to $65.5 million based on the 2017 design schedule of rates.
TfNSW reviewed the project in 2019 to see if it could be internally delivered. This review, applying TfNSW's construction approach, has further projected the construction cost estimate to between $81 million and $95 million.
"We need a clear message from council to take to Pat Conaghan and the Deputy Prime Minister that basically council wants this to happen and we would appreciate any support the Federal Government could give us," Cr Levido said.
"Council in this current crisis will not be able to find $30 million and if this is to happen, we need the Federal Government to step up to the plate.
"We are grateful for the ongoing support of the State Government. If we can find the shortfall from the Federal Government, the TfNSW might be more than willing come back to the steering group and assist council get this project finished."
Mayor Peta Pinson said the community has been waiting for council to deliver this project for a long time.
"It ticks so many boxes," she said.