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Thirty years of waiting could be over for residents of the contentious Maria River Road.
The gravel road connecting Port Macquarie and Crescent Head will be targeted under a joint funding application between Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and Kempsey Shire Council.
Port Macquarie council’s group manager Duncan Clarke confirmed the application.
“Council are preparing a Fixing Country Roads joint funding application with Kempsey Shire Council, for the sealing of Maria River Road,” he said.
“This application is due September 1 this year.”
Northside Progress Association president Kingsley Searle said the Maria River Road community deserved getting the gravel road sealed.
“It’s a shocking road,” he said.
“My understanding is that the funding being sourced is specifically for roads that straddle two local government council areas.
Northside Progress Association's Kingsley Searle and Narelle Milligan discussing the sealing of Maria River Road. pic.twitter.com/mosTFwlFC0— Peter Daniels (@daniels_fairfax) August 7, 2017
“With applications due by the end of the month it also means that residents, businesses and the wider community are urged to provide submissions in support of this funding.
“Specifically those submissions need to highlight the costs to residents and businesses incurred because of the current road, what financial impacts the road has on the viability of their business and what expected increases – in economic terms – they envisage through better connections to their markets.
In the tea tree industry alone there are some 500 hectares of mature plants harvested and processed on Maria River Road. That industry is alone worth over $4 million.
“The association has been given Gordon Dick’s file that contains the historical correspondence relating to the fight to get this gravel road tar sealed.
“That file contains letters and plans that are over 30 years in the making.”
The association has maintained data on crashes on the 27 kilometre stretch of gravel for many years and this will help form part of their submission.
There is also a strong economic case for the upgrade, Mr Searle said.
“In the tea tree industry there are some 500 hectares of mature plants harvested and processed on Maria River Road. That industry is alone worth over $4 million.
“Other agricultural pursuits include, cattle, small farm herds, bees, horticulture and a quarry.”
Mr Searle said Maria River Road was often used as a by-pass when the highway was blocked while tourists regularly use the road as a link to Crescent Head.
“I can also see greater economic ties between Port Macquarie and Crescent Head too,” he added.
Kempsey Shire Council was contacted for a comment.