No commitment, but Council considers long term strategic planning in the era of inland rail

The volume of heavy truck traffic along the Newell Highway through Narrabri grows each year.

Narrabri Shire Council will undertake discussions and be proactively involved in the planning of a Newell Highway heavy vehicle bypass of Narrabri.

However, deputy mayor Robert Kneale was eager to stress that a bypass “would be well into the future and probably not in my lifetime.”

The recommendation passed unanimously and requires that ‘Council work proactively with Road and Maritime Services (RMS) and Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) with regard to the forward planning for a Newell Highway heavy vehicle bypass, with Councillors to receive monthly updates on the progress of discussions.’

RMS would be responsible for the heavy vehicle bypass, ARTC are responsible for the inland rail alignment.

The two are expected to cross the Namoi River at a similar location due to terrain and available open space.

The idea of a heavy vehicle bypass caused debate among councillors at their monthly meeting.

The main concern was that the recommendation could be incorrectly viewed as a way to ‘fast track’ a general vehicle bypass of Narrabri and that would ‘send shivers down the spines’ of people in the community as drought continues to impact on spending in the main street.

Before the proposal passed, the words ‘acquisition of land’ were removed from the original amendment and the request for monthly progress updates added.

The November council meeting’s business paper stated that since the Shire became aware of the Inland Rail and Newell Highway upgrades, it had commenced investigation and concept design of an industrial/intermodal hub that would impact heavy vehicle movements through Narrabri and immediately west of Narrabri West.