A new, four-lane bridge will be built over the Shoalhaven River at Nowra, the Prime Minister has vowed.
Malcolm Turnbull will visit the Shoalhaven on Thursday and announce a $155 million commitment to build the long-awaited river crossing.
However, the money – to be allocated in Tuesday’s federal budget – will only fund half of the project’s $310 million estimated total cost; the NSW government will have to chip in the rest.
Fairfax Media understands ongoing discussions between both levels of government have been productive, with the NSW government likely to match the funding.
The state budget will be handed down next month.
“This $155 million commitment will ease congestion and improve freight movement in the region,” Mr Turnbull said.
“It will mean South Coast residents spend less time in the car and more time with their families.”
On average, about 50,000 vehicles cross the Shoalhaven River at Nowra every day.
The new bridge would become the third river crossing and carry four lanes of northbound Princes Highway traffic.
When the new structure is built, the existing concrete bridge would be reconfigured and used by southbound traffic.
The adjacent historic bridge, built in 1881, would be preserved for community use.
The project also includes upgrades to intersections on either side of the bridge – at Bolong, Illaroo and Bridge roads, and Pleasant Way.
“By managing the budget, we are able to invest in the roads that the people of the South Coast need. This project will enable people to get home sooner and safer,” Mr Turnbull said.
“It has been secured by the ongoing advocacy of the Member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis.”
The government would seek an equal funding contribution from the state “to see this important regional project delivered to the South Coast”, Mr Turnbull said.
The federal government has already spent $10 million on planning and development.
The final business case is well progressed, the PM said, and will be assessed by Infrastructure Australia.
The NSW government has invested $1.6 million in the project.
Gilmore cash an election sugar hit
It’s still a few days away – and we know little of what it might hold for the Illawarra – but already this year’s federal budget has the makings of a pre-election cash splash.
In the same week the Liberal Party opened its preselection in Gilmore, the South Coast seat it holds by the slimmest of margins, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will pay the electorate a visit.
He will be in Nowra on Thursday with a big bag of cash – $155 million to be exact – to spend on a new Shoalhaven River crossing.
We’ll build the bridge, the PM will say – despite the fact the Commonwealth cash is only enough to construct half of it; the NSW government must provide the rest.
Surely Mr Turnbull would only make such a pledge if he was certain the outstanding cash was forthcoming?
Regardless, it’s likely to be seen as a pre-election sweetener for an area the Libs are desperate to retain.
Gilmore, which stretches from Kiama to Tuross Head, is one of the most marginal seats in the country.
Labor almost won it in 2016 and could go one better next time.