AS ONE council project remains mired in controversy, a second project that fell into jeopardy at the same time is forging ahead.
Wagga City Council general manager Alan Eldridge is “fairly confident” the proposed Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics (RIFL) hub at Bomen will progress in concept, while defending council spending more than $1 million on associated road works (stage one) before the project is given the official green light.
Mr Eldridge said appointing Genesee and Wyoming as the preferred proponents to develop stage two of the project – rail infrastructure and terminals – was a step forward, but said its future depended on whether it is found to be commercially viable.
“They (Genesee and Wyoming) presented with the closest in line with milestones council was seeing,” Mr Eldridge said. “They will invest a considerable amount, so we’re giving them the box seat (through an exclusivity agreement).”
The commitment follows Traxion, the company responsible for the $75 million project, falling into voluntary administration in April – just one week before Douglas Aerospace, the company council lent more than $2 million to in 2012, also entered administration.
While a report into the “damning” findings surrounding the Douglas Aerospace loan is yet to be made public, Mr Eldridge is declaring transparency on the RIFL project.
The first stage of the project – an underpass and heavy vehicle intersection near East Bomen Road, a link road from Bomen Business Park to the underpass, a B-Triple designed heavy vehicle link between the eastern side of the main rail line to the Olympic Highway, and land acquisitions – is “setting the scene for the project to take on an intermodal hub”.
Council is currently mapping out the delivery plan for stage one and subject to state government funding, construction could begin in the second half of 2016.
Building the intermodal hub itself can be carried out concurrently with the associated road works, but council must first determine whether it is financially viable – a process expected to take six months.
“The Traxion episode really had nothing to do with the project locally,” Mr Eldridge said. “I’m fairly confident in the concept of it. Until the numbers are presented, I’m not prepared to say it’ll go ahead. If it’s not viable, we don’t do it.”