Heavy equipment will soon be a familiar sight along the Murrumbidgee as the long-awaited levee bank upgrade rolls into action.
Stage 1 of the project is set to be completed by April next year.
“It’s great that it started- We began last Tuesday with the preliminary work and in the next week people will see heavy equipment on the bank,” Mayor Greg Conkey said.
Stage 1 of the upgrade consists of embankment levee earthen works and the construction of concrete spillways at Flowerdale and upstream from Copland Street.
While council have copped heavy criticism for delays, Cr Conkey stressed the complexity of funding, designing and constructing such a major project.
“Unfortunately it does take a long period of time and I appreciate the public’s patience concerning it, but we just cant start a levee without going through the correct processes,” he said.
Tatton resident Phillip Ward said it was wonderful to finally see some action.
“I’ve always been after that public commitment on a timetable and finally I see they’ve done that,” Mr Ward said.
“I need the city as much as everybody else and the idea that we were going to find ourselves possibly without a functional city and with all the damage running way beyond the cost of the levee was just an unacceptable outcome.
“I’m very happy we’ve moved to a can-do council!”
Senior Project Manager Darryl Woods said some disruptions will be experienced during the works.
“Council and Central West Civil will aim to ensure any disruptions are kept to a minimum and we thank the community for their cooperation,” he said.
The Flowerdale Lagoon section of the Wiradjuri walking track will be closed until April 2018 and the Copland Street/Kooringal Road roundabout to Monumental Cemetery section will close from November 1 until February next year.
The CBD won’t be impacted until Stage 2. Pending tender, central works are expected to start in April 2018 and be finished by the end of the year.
“Fingers crossed once it’s completed the insurance companies will realise that this is a greater protection for the CBD, hopefully we will see a reduction in premiums,” Cr Conkey said.
Cr Conkey said a decision on whether council will go ahead with upgrades for North Wagga is expected to be made in the coming months.