ANOTHER hurdle has been jumped when it comes to accessing more money to expand the WR Connect freight terminal in the MIA.
Located at Wumbulgal, bordering the shires of Leeton and Griffith, the facility continues to grow, with both councils from the two towns working on ways to expand.
Last year, Leeton Shire Council applied to the federal government's Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program (II Program) for funding for this idea in a joint strategic initiative with Griffith City Council.
Proposals under the II Program are assessed by the government in a "gateway process", with Leeton shire rcently receiving confirmation the WR Connect proposal had successfully passed "gateway three".
The proposed investment in WR Connect will provide additional/expanded intermodal freight capacity for the Western Riverina region and remove significant heavy vehicle and train shunting hazards out of the Griffith CBD.
"The Western Riverina region produces the largest volume and diversity of agricultural product in NSW," said Leeton shire's group manager activation Andrew Reilly.
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"As the region's major freight intermodal, WR Connect has significant potential to enhance the efficiency of freight movement, improve the supply chain and inland rail interface and generate investor confidence, further stimulating regional economic growth."
In addition to the gateway assessment process, council will continue to work with Griffith to co-ordinate messages and utilise joint opportunities to promote and inform relevant politicians, government departments, advisors and stakeholders of the merits of supporting the WR Connect Project. feasibility studies and strategic business cases.
Leeton shire's general manager Jackie Kruger said the most recent news was a step forward in improving the chances of receiving the infrastructure funding needed to deliver the project, which she said "promises improved freight efficiencies and economic growth in the region, including additional jobs".
At its August ordinary council meeting, Leeton Shire Council resolved to proceed through to gateway four of the program, the penultimate step in the process.
As the region's major freight intermodal, WR Connect has significant potential to enhance the efficiency of freight movement, improve the supply chain and inland rail interface and generate investor confidence, further stimulating regional economic growth.- Andrew Reilly, Leeton Shire Council
"As a proposal progresses through the gateway process, a more detailed explanation of the proposal is required to be developed," Mrs Kruger said.
"We are fortunate to have access to the specialist services of Ernst and Young, who have been contracted by the government under the program to assist proponents such as (us) to further develop our ideas.
"We will continue to work with (them) and other stakeholders to get through the next gateway and make the project a reality."
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