Newell Highway closure costing regional NSW

NatRoad says not enough is being done to reopen the NSW highway

Newell Highway closure costing regional NSW
NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.


Efforts to reopen Newell Highway following widespread flood damage in September are not enough and the delay is costing regional trucking businesses up to $10,000 per week, the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) says.

Heavy vehicles are being redirected to local roads in rural towns since the national highway was damaged by floods, with many sections of the road near Forbes still underwater.

NSW roads minister Duncan Gay had earlier stated that the state government was looking at "urgent" upgrades to fix the flood-battered highway, which is the main inland freight corridor connecting NSW with neighbouring states.

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark says local roads are not designed to handle high volume freight vehicles and the current situation is not only affecting the roads but also increasing maintenance and fuel costs for operators.

"If the Pacific Highway had been closed for six weeks causing major diversions and impacting trucking businesses we would be hearing about it and getting the highway open would be a priority," Clark says.

"The ongoing closure of the Newell Highway between West Wyalong and Forbes directly impacts the bottom lines of both regional councils faced with upgrading rural roads and regional trucking businesses who have longer travel times as well as higher wages, fuel and maintenance costs.

"The wear and tear on a truck using a rural road rather than a highway means more expenses for worn out parts and repairs.

"It is also a safety issue for regional trucking operators as it is harder to find appropriate rest areas for drivers to pull a truck over on rural roads not built for this kind of traffic.

"Regional trucking businesses are waiting on the opening of the Newell Highway in late November and hoping this important Highway is being treated as a priority project for the state."

The matter will be subject to discussion during NatRoad's upcoming NSW Regional Trucking Summit in Orange.

"The quality of our regional roads and rest stops for trucks has a direct impact to the bottom line of regional trucking businesses and regional economies," Clark says.

"This is why we are hosting a Free NSW Regional Trucking Summit to spotlight the challenges facing regional trucking businesses and explore what we can do better to support their competitiveness into the future.

"Road and rest stop investment by governments and councils is critical as well as support for regional trucking businesses to attract the next generation of drivers, be ready for economic shocks and to have a transition plan for a technology based future.

For details about the event, visit the NatRoad website.



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