The NSW government has accepted recommendations to reclassify five roads in Wagga and Junee from council to regional status, potentially allowing greater funding for repairs and upgrades.
The NSW Road Classification Review and Transfer Panel has recommended the transfer of 391 kilometres of priority regional roads across eight local government areas, including Byrnes Road, and Edgar, William, Ducker and Lorne streets.
Regional Transport and Roads Minister Paul Toole said the transfers would relieve the "crippling maintenance backlog" burden on local councils and ratepayers.
"These are some of our most important connectors between communities in the bush, with thousands of locals, businesses and freight using them every day, but our regional councils simply don't have the resources or capacity to maintain and upgrade them appropriately," Mr Toole said.
"The Independent Expert Panel's interim report identifies the most urgent of these for priority transfer, and sets a rigorous, evidence-based roadmap for the main round, which will open on 27 September."
Wagga City Council infrastructure services director Warren Faulkner said reclassifying Byrnes Road, which runs from Oura Road through Bomen to Junee, would make it eligible for more funding.
"Change of classification of the road from local road to regional road will attract a contribution from the state government towards ongoing maintenance of the road as well as make the road eligible submission to other state programs such as the Repair and Improvement of Regional Roads (REPAIR) program," he said.
"Details of the funding contribution will not be known until the road classification and transfer process is complete which is expected to be ongoing for the next 12-18 months."
Wagga councillors unanimously voted to apply to shift some of its highest maintenance roads from council to regional responsibility in September last year, including Eunony Bridge Road.
Junee Council had applied to the independent panel for the road transfers and its director of engineering services, Cole Davis, said the amount of traffic using Byrnes Road has been increasing for a number of years.
"The traffic on Byrnes Road averages over 2500 vehicles per day, which is comparable to the traffic volumes on the Olympic Highway," he said.
"Byrnes Road serves as the primary industry route between Junee and Bomen. The Albury-Illabo segment of the Inland Rail project will see increased intermodal freight at Harefield and Bomen.
"Additionally, the Bomen Business Park will result in a further increase in industry around the Wagga area."
"If Byrnes Road is reclassified as a regional road, it would provide Junee Shire Council with additional block grant and related state government funding opportunities to maintain and upgrade Byrnes Road into the future," he said.
Labor's transport and regional road spokesperson Jenny Aitchison criticised Mr Toole for taking seven months to release the new Road Classification Review and and Transfer Panel report.
"Paul Toole's slow action on the reclassification of regional roads is tantamount to a broken promise, which will come at the cost of rural and regional jobs and local economies," Ms Aitchison said.
"In the government's response to the Independent Panel's report, they advise that Transport for NSW will now work with councils regarding individual roads approved for transfer to state-management, including assessment of condition and required remediation costs to bring roads to the required standard.
"The government must ensure that councils are not left out of pocket because the state has let this problem drag on for years without sufficient investment in regional roads."
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