Walcha Council hosted a morning tea on Tuesday to officially mark the completion of a $3.84 million investment by the Coalition Government to widen and re-seal 14 sections of the 290‑kilometre Thunderbolts Way, to better connect inland communities to the coast.
Federal Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, was on hand to congratulate the three Councils involved in the joint project: MidCoast Council, Uralla Council and Walcha Council.
“This project will see heavy freight vehicles travel more quickly and safely along the shortest route between Newcastle and our inland towns,” Mr Joyce said.
“I’ve been fighting for upgrades on this road and now we’re delivering - it’s all helping to build our corridor of commerce and a stronger regional economy in the New England electorate.”
Walcha Mayor Eric Noakes said Thunderbolts Way connects traffic and freight from southern Queensland and northern New South Wales to Newcastle and Sydney.
“This route will become more strategic as the port of Newcastle continues to receive a larger percentage of inbound and outbound freight from these regions,” Cr Noakes said.
“The upgrade will help our community meet the increasing demands of traffic and freight movement. The official opening of these rehabilitated sections of Thunderbolts Way continues Walcha Councils’ push to upgrade this vital link. Walcha Council will keep working with both the Federal and State governments to ensure the ongoing and necessary upgrade of Thunderbolts Way to meet the increasing demands.”
According to Cr Noakes the project was completed on time and within budget. Improvements include widening, replacing any unsuitable surfaces and applying a thicker pavement base to the road.
Mayor of Uralla Michael Pearce said the upgrade will benefit up to 1,500 vehicles which use the road each day.
“This project provides a safer and more efficient transport route for freight vehicles as well as locals and visitors to the region,” Cr Pearce said.
The project was jointly funded with the Coalition Government investing $3,840,000, Walcha Council $374,874, Gloucester Council $931,984 and Uralla Council $299,809.
Following a short presentation by Walcha Council’s director of engineering Dylan Reeves, the group drove out for a site inspection on a section of Thunderbolts Way completed by Walcha Council.
I reckon this year it is going to be a Walcha Rams and Tamworth Pirates grand final ,and I reckon Walcha are going to win it.Barnaby Joyce
Before he left for the site inspection Mr Joyce took time out to congratulate his former rugby club on its big win last weekend.
“If they can rack up that score in a final I reckon they’re looking alright for a grand final, but we’ve got a bit of luck to go before then,” he said.
“It’s incredible when a town of 2,500 people ends up in a grand final against a city of 60 plus thousand people. They lost by one point last year, I reckon this year it is going to be a Walcha Rams and Tamworth Pirates grand final, and I reckon Walcha are going to win it.