Wellington Council's fight to finish the road between Wellington and the Golden Highway ahead of the start of the Cobbora Coal Project has taken a step forward.
State government officials inspected parts of the unsealed 353 road, which will be essential for moving residents to the state-owned coal mine.
The NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay met with an official delegation from Wellington in Orange recently.
Wellington mayor Councillor Anne Jones said the minister was very supportive of upgrading the road.
“He said it was one of his main priorities but added that the cost to councils and the state government of fixing flood-damaged roads in the central west was holding this up,” she said.
Mr Gay said he knew places like this needed special help.
State Member for Orange Andrew Gee supported the minister admitting there was a way to go but that Mr Gay was trying to help.
“Andrew has a chair almost stationed in my office and he pushes projects like this hard,” Mr Gay said.
It is understood following an inspection of the road on Friday, the first stage of funding up to $230,000 may become available.
Cr Jones believes a commitment from the state government will accelerate the sealing of the seven kilometres needed to complete the road.
“This has been a road close to my heart and we have met with several state governments over the years,” Cr Jones said.
“This is a critical road for the movement of people from Wellington to the mine and there is a strong possibility we will get a lion’s share of the jobs on offer.”
It is understood Wellington Council has $1 million to spend on the road but needs another $2.5 million to complete the 353 road; approval is urgently needed for the project.
The Cobbora mine management will hold an information day on May 15 in Wellington and the road is a "game changer" in the bidding battle for jobs between Dubbo, Dunedoo, Gulgong, Mudgee and Wellington.
The Cobbora Coal Project is being built to supply 9.5 million tonnes of coal each year to major NSW power stations.
Mine construction is due to start mid-2013, with an average construction workforce of about 350, peaking at 550 people.
Mine operations will start in 2015 with employment expected to peak at approximately 590 people during the mine’s 21 year life.