Council nurses stockpile of cash amid Dunns Road closure

WAGGA City Council is nursing a stockpile of federal government cash, pledged to fix a potentially-deadly thoroughfare more than 14 months ago.

Riverina MP Michael McCormack surprised local government bureaucrats with $2.5 million to seal Dunns Road before 2016’s federal election – but the hefty sum appears to be gathering dust in council’s coffers. 

Short-term fixes on the infamous rat run have slugged taxpayers $60,000 in maintenance costs during the 2016/17 financial year.

The Daily Advertiser can reveal the latest closure is for “regular grading maintenance” and is unrelated to the sealing upgrade. 

Gary Jennings, owner of a fencing and livestock business near the hazardous stretch, said constant closures had slammed a handbrake on profits.

The road’s repairs were of particular importance to Mr Jennings, who was hit by an oncoming car at the intersection of Dunns Road and Holbrook Road in 2016. 

“Someone is going to get hurt,” Mr Jennings said.

“Council spend all this money grading dirt sections of the road, and then as soon as it rains it all goes back to normal.

“They need a permanent fix immediately.

“It slows everyone down and takes a great deal of time for people to get across.”

A clause of the federal funding is that council must match the $2.5 million dollar-for-dollar to complete the $5 million project. 

Outspoken councillor Paul Funnell suspected council’s agreement to grade the road four times per year had not been kept.

“It’s time something is done about this,” he said. 

“It’s a notoriously shocking road.”

Despite receiving federal funding, Wagga City Council revealed a long-term decision on Dunns Road had not yet been made. 

“The existing alignment of Dunns Road does not meet Australian design standards for a sealed road, which means major works would be required,” operations director Caroline Angel said.

“A major realignment project would cost more than $5 million.”

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