West Dapto's long-awaited Fowlers Road bridge was hailed as the "F-word which can finally be said out loud" as councillors signed off on the contract to design the road this week.
There was jubilation as Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery encouraged a round of applause at Monday night's meeting, labelling the award of the $1 million tender to Cardno Engineering as a momentous occasion.
"At last we're on the way, we've got half the money and now we're doing the design," he said.
"The work for this project has been on our shoulders since we came to council and goes back decades but here it is, tonight we start the process."
The $45 million road will link the Princes Highway and Fowlers Road intersection to West Dapto, with a bridge spanning the rail line and Mullet Creek.
Last year, the NSW government committed $600,000 to fund the design, and then allocated $22.5 million from the Port Kembla lease fund to build the project.
Moving the motion to accept the tender, Vicki Curran congratulated her fellow Ward 3 councillors - Bede Crasnich, Ann Martin and Chris Connor - and council staff for their work in advocating for the bridge.
"I'm just so grateful that we can finally say the F-word because we've had this commitment that we would get to say the F-word, which people thought would never exist," she said.
Cr Martin apologised to Dapto Chamber of Commerce for saying the bridge would never be built and thanked the people of Dapto for their patience.
Cr Connor said awarding the contract was significant, but warned the access road was only half funded and required a further injection from the state or federal government.
"Somewhere deep in the [council archives] there are another set of plans from previous decades, because this has been done before folks," he said.
"We have money now, but we have to set our sights on this whole process, otherwise we will be asking how we are going to deliver this project to its finality."
Despite differences of opinion over who deserved most credit, including sacked Illawarra minister Greg Pearce, councillors voted unanimously to accept the tender.