Work begins on Gwydir Highway Washpool project

WORK will this week on the notorious Washpool section of the Gwydir Highway, about 17 kilometres east of Moree.

The $7.1 million project will raise and rebuilt the flood-prone stretch of road, keeping communities better connected and freight on the move after heavy rain.

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall last week turned the first ceremonial sod of soil on the project which he said would ensure the Gwydir Highway continues to provide a crucial link for tourists, freight operators, and more importantly, local residents accessing various services in town.

“The Washpool is one of the first sections of the Gwydir Highway to be topped by floodwaters and it’s raising has been a long standing priority for locals and Moree Plains Shire Council,” Mr Marshall said.

“The $7.1 million project to raise and widen this section of the highway, build 1.5-metre-wide shoulders and install large drains alongside the highway will improve flood immunity along this vital route.

(From left) Moree Plains Shire Councillor Mike Montgomery, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall and Transport for NSW Regional General Manager Alistair Lunn turning the first ceremonial sod of soil on the $7.1 million Washpool project.

“An important part of the work will be replacing the existing three-box cell culvert drain with a 20-box cell culvert to move more water away from the road.”

When first announced early last year, the project had a $4.5 million price tag, but Mr Marshall said that once detailed design work was done and flood data analysed, more money was allocated to expand the scope of the works.

“This is now a much larger project than first envisaged, but it will ensure the road doesn’t go under and wash away in floods and that floodwaters are not diverted onto neighbouring properties,” Mr Marshall said.

“This project will also be a huge win for the freight and agricultural industry because it means essential goods can keep moving after floods – and that’s important with the NSW regional freight task expected to increase by 12 percent to 286 million tonnes by 2036.

“This project should keep this section of the highway open and negate the need to rebuild it after every flood, which is great news for our region.”

Work will be carried out from Monday, 12 October, between 7am and 6pm Monday to Saturday, with the creation of a side track to direct motorists around the work site.

Reduced speed limits and intermittent closures will be in place, and the project is expected to be completed by the end of next year, weather permitting. Transport for NSW will keep the community informed as work progresses.

Media Release: Friday, October 9, 2020