ONE WEEK from polling day the Coalition tabled $1 million for construction of a roundabout near Armidale Regional Airport.
It comes more than a year after the state government committed money to the $3 million project, 10 days prior to the 2015 state election.
Before the election, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall promised to work with federal counterpart Barnaby Joyce to secure the extra funding needed.
“It’s absolutely critical they [the federal government] come onboard,” Mr Marshall said.
The Deputy Prime Minister said his support for the project was never in question.
But it has taken 463 days and an election to turn that support into a funding announcement, and that is only if the Coalition is re-elected.
“Funding decisions for projects aren’t made overnight,” Mr Joyce said.
“I’ve been lobbying for this project for a long time … seeking funding support to make this project happen.”
Council is “shovel ready” and waits on the result of Saturday’s ballot, but Armidale Regional Council interim general manager Glenn Wilcox said the upgrade would progress with or without federal help.
“The project was never contingent on state or federal funding,” he said.
But Mr Wilcox would not be drawn on who would pay the $1 million funding hole left should the Coalition be unsuccessful on Saturday.
The Roads and Maritime Service has to approve the design and issue a work order for the work to commence.
“Council is ready to start when the Roads and Maritime Service put the tender out,” Mr Wilcox said.
The new roundabout will progress independent of the $6.3 million state funded airport expansion package announced earlier this month. It will be located 360 meters south of the current airport entrance on the New England Highway and will provide primary access to Saumarez Homestead, Armidale Regional Airport and developments on both sides of the highway.
The expansion is part of Council’s master plan for the region and Mr Marshall said the new roundabout was the linchpin for the whole project.
“It’s a multi, multi million dollar project,” Mr Marshall said.
“But without the roundabout, the whole thing couldn’t go ahead.”
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