West Dapto roads get big slice of Port windfall

Wollongong City Council scored almost a third of the NSW government’s $100 million Port Kembla lease fund, receiving more than $30 million for West Dapto roads, the Grand Pacific Walk and an upgrade to tourist facilities at Bald Hill.

However, Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery warned that  the council still needed more money to meet its long-term infrastructure needs and said controversial plans to raise rates and review services would continue despite yesterday’s windfall.

Cr Bradbery welcomed the state funding, saying he was ‘‘always grateful’’ to receive money for council projects from the government.

However, he said this didn’t change the council’s need to find an extra $21 million a year to ensure it can replace existing infrastructure, such as stormwater drains, footpaths, and the kiosk and road at Mount Keira lookout.

Additionally, Cr Bradbery said his organisation would be required to come up with more of its own funds to get the three new projects off the ground.

‘‘This money is welcome, but it doesn’t detract from our financial sustainability review.

‘‘I know $30 million might sound like a lot of money, but in terms of infrastructure it doesn’t go far.

‘‘We will have to try to borrow or bring forward the money to fund the rest of these projects, so we’re not off the hook.’’

For instance, $22.5 million allocated to link the Princes Highway to West Dapto via Fowlers Road was the biggest grant provided through the fund, but  $22.3 million more is needed before construction can start.

Cr Bradbery said the council would now apply for a Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme loan – which includes an interest rate subsidy – and would also try to bring forward West Dapto developers’ contributions to fund the remaining amount.

‘‘As soon as we get the design work done and the money finalised ... then we’ll get under way as quickly as possible,’’ he said.

‘‘I’d like to see it start within 12 to 18 months, because, as we know, this is urgently needed.’’

Tenders for the road design, funded by a $600,000 state government grant, close next week.

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