NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian opened the long-awaited Bagtown five-ways roundabout on Wednesday, sweetening the deal with the announcement of a surprise further $5 million in funding.
The roundabout, part of the ‘Southern Industrial Link for Griffith’, now provides an alternative route for heavy vehicles along the city’s southern sector, with the extra funding from the state government going towards completing the project.
Dennis and Annette Salvestrin’s citrus farm borders the edge of the sprawling new roundabout, with construction blocking their access into town for half a year.
Despite the inconvenience, there was no doubt in their minds it had been worth the wait.
”It is magical,” Mrs Salvestrin said, “[i]t was a long wait but they have done a good job and this will get a lot of trucks out of our town and off our roads.”
Heavy trucks passing through the city alongside locations with high populations of children, like City Park, has long been a cause for concern for the community.
“Often there are also times when you would go for a walk and have to be 10 metres off the road because trucks would go past and nearly blow you over,” Mrs Salvestrin explained.
But the Premier was quick to point out the alternative route would also work to support and encourage increasing freight numbers passing through the city.
“[It] demonstrates we’ve got the jobs growth, industry growing and now we’ve got the roads to support increasing freight task and we want to make sure we minimise the freight task on local roads and residential streets, but obviously increase the task on roads like this one,” she said.
“This is a growing community, how many regional centres can say they are growing as quickly as Griffith?”
The Premier, who dumped Murray MP Adrian Piccoli from her frontbench in January, was full of praise for his work on Wednesday saying he had been the best Education Minister the state had ever had and was an outstanding member for Griffith.
In good spirits as his electorate received $40 million in funding in just one day a jovial Mr Piccoli joked all the roundabout was missing was a statue of the mayor in the middle, making a tongue in cheek comment it might incite drivers to go over the roundabout rather than around it.
However, he was serious when discussing why the opening of the roundabout was of such importance for the Griffith community.
“In the future, freight companies will be able to use larger trucks with increased haulage capacity, which will lower operating costs and boost the regional agricultural and horticultural industries, worth more than $1 billion per-annum,” he said.
“We expect 150 B-Doubles and 652 other heavy vehicles will be removed from the city centre each day, making for a safer and less incident-prone city.”
The Bagtown roundabout is located at the intersection of Old Willbriggie Road, Kurrajong Avenue, Watkins Avenue and Thorne Road.