The creation of a major heavy vehicle route linking the Newell Highway to busy grain handling facilities at Wirrinya, south-west of Parkes, is now complete.

Federal Nationals Leader, Deputy Prime Minister and local Member for Riverina Michael McCormack said the Newell Highway was a critical freight artery for the Riverina and Central West and one of the country’s busiest highways.

“The Newell Highway to Wirrinya Heavy Vehicle Route upgrade will strengthen the regional freight network for the Central West, providing a vital transport link for the grain and livestock industries,” Mr McCormack said. “This upgrade is a great example of the type of infrastructure projects the Nationals in Government are funding across Australia under the HVSPP to significantly improve productivity and safety outcomes for heavy vehicle operations.”

NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said the upgrade was part of a commitment from the Nationals in Government to improving regional freight links through the Restart NSW Fixing Country Roads program, which had allocated more than $200 million to more than 200 projects across the state.

“The Nationals in Government are proud to be able to invest in more efficient and reliable road networks, directly benefiting the freight industry, which is worth $60 billion to the NSW economy,” Mrs Pavey said. “The $4.4 million Newell Highway to Wirrinya Heavy Vehicle Route Upgrade was awarded $2.8 million under Restart NSW Fixing Country Roads, including $1.8 million to Forbes Shire Council and $1 million to Weddin Shire Council.”

The Federal Government contributed $800,000 to the project under Round 5 of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP). Forbes Shire Council contributed $600,000 and Weddin Shire Council contributed $200,000.

Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW Rick Colless said a 12.6-kilometre section of the road – known as Bewleys Road in the Weddin Shire and Wirrinya Road in the Forbes Shire – was widened, had its culverts strengthened, intersections realigned and rail crossings improved to allow access for an increased number of heavy vehicles.

“The upgrade will allow B-doubles, road trains and other heavy vehicles to use the road as a direct route between the Newell Highway and Wirrinya,” Mr Colless said.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the road was narrow and in poor condition, making it unsuitable for a large volume of heavy vehicles.

“The upgrade has created a more direct heavy vehicle route which represents a distance saving of up to 37 kilometres per trip for those trucks which will no longer need to travel through Forbes or Caragabal,” Ms Cooke said.

Forbes Shire Mayor Graeme Miller said the grain handling facility at Wirrinya received about 50,000 tonnes of grain each year by truck.

“The creation of a more direct route for those trucks reduces transport costs and increases freight efficiency and productivity, supporting growth of the local grain industry,” Cr Miller said.

Weddin Shire Mayor Mark Liebich said the project would also provide benefits for the transport of livestock and agricultural supplies, with the route able to support higher volumes of freight, as well as improve safety for all road users, including those on the school bus that uses the road.

“I am proud the Forbes and Weddin Shire Councils worked collaboratively to deliver this important freight link for the Central West,” Cr Liebich said.