Labor today pledged more than $17 million towards safety upgrades for a dangerous section of the Brindabella Road, from the Brindabella Valley to the ACT border.
Eden-Monaro MP Kristy McBain was in Tumut for the announcement.
Labor will commit $17.4 million to the project, if elected at the federal election in May. The work will reduce travel time for locals while also improving safety.
The funding will target a winding, narrow and corrugated 10.6km section of the road from the Goodradigbee Bridge to Piccadilly Circus. That section has blind corners, including lengths that only cater to the width of one car.
Guardrails, signage and road widening will be priorities, with bitumen sealing of the road to be the final stage of the project, estimated to take three to four years to complete.
The funding announcement ends a long-running advocacy campaign by Snowy Valleys Council, and before it Tumut Council, alongside groups like the Brindabella Road The Economic Link (BRTEL), both of which were acknowledged by Ms McBain.
“As part of the recovery process following the black summer bushfires, individuals and businesses have come together to discuss ways to kick start the local economy. The Snowy Valleys community has been advocating for these upgrades for a long time,” Ms McBain said.
“Brindabella Road is frequently raised as a way to open up the region to more visitors.
“Upgrading Brindabella Road will allow ACT residents and international tourists to get to the Snowy Valleys more easily, cutting 66 km off the alternate journey via the Hume Highway.
“With so much happening in the region to boost tourism, including the Sculpture Trail and multiple new bike tracks, the Snowy Valleys is becoming a popular weekend getaway for Canberra residents.
“By making the journey safer and much quicker, we have the opportunity to open up the region to far more visitors.”
She pointed out an economic feasibility study carried out in 2019 showed that for every dollar spent on the Brindabella Road, it generated $7 to local communities.
“You can’t get a better business case than that,” she said.
The Labor MP said she had spoken to the ACT government about improving its part of the road, with that government planning a number of safety upgrades as well.
Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Catherine King, said the Labor Government funding would cover critical safety upgrades to what she described as the most dangerous section of Brindabella Road.
“I first met with Kristy and local businesses about this project over a year ago,” Ms King said.
“This project will open up more opportunities to locals, visitors and businesses. It will create more secure local jobs and secure a better future for communities across the Snowy Valleys.”
The Snowy Valleys Council has already funded and completed a full survey, design and cost plan for the project meaning works will be able to commence without unnecessary delay, Ms King said.
In 2018 the council allocated $308,000 for a detailed design of an upgrade of the 10.6km section from Goodradigbee Bridge to the ACT border at Piccadilly Circus. The funding also covered the economic feasibility study.
The road is about 120km from Tumut to Canberra.
Upgrading the road has been the number one project on the council’s advocacy plan for a number of years.
Brian Nancarrow, a member of the BRTEL, said driving the road was dangerous and a bone-jarring experience. The upgrades were crucial to allow people to drive the road safely, he said.
“The Canberra side of the road is the worst I’ve seen it,” Mr Nancarrow said. “The Tumut side is a bit better, but still disgraceful.
“They say you can’t break a Hilux – well, I’m telling you, the Brindabella Road will break one.
“This is fantastic news and I thank Kristy McBain … over the years I’ve talked to politicians and candidates from all sides, both state and federal, without getting anywhere. Kristy is the one that has come through.”