$5 milliion to finish Hogbin Drive
By MEL MARTIN
SOMETIMES the seemingly impossible does happen. Coffs Harbour now has a commitment of $5 million from the State Government for the Hogbin Drive extension, and could see the first excavator start digging the Bonville Deviation within weeks. "We now have confirmation in writing from (NSW Minister for Roads) Eric Roozendaal, so they're fully locked in," Coffs Harbour mayor Cr Keith Rhoades said after a meeting with Mr Roozendaal this week. "We already had a verbal commitment, but we wanted it to be in writing because we didn't want to risk having it pulled out halfway through the project." But the cheque is still far from being in the mail. "The only hiccup in the arrangement was that they want to fund $2.5 million in the 2007-08 NSW budget, with the remaining $2.5 million in the 2008-09 budget," Cr Rhoades said. "That doesn't suit us because we hope to finish Hogbin drive in its entirety within the next 15 to 18 months. "If we have to wait two years to get the money from the Government it could incur interest of $354,000, and we can't afford that." Cr Rhoades said he raised that issue with Mr Roozendaal, and felt positive the funding could be brought forward. "I was pleased with the outcome," he said. "The minister was willing to listen. He was sympathetic and understands our situation. "We should get an answer back within the next six months, but that won't hold us up." The total cost of the Hogbin Drive extension is estimated at $15 million. The Federal Government committed its $5 million in July last year, and Cr Rhoades said completion of the project would have been impossible without the help of the Federal and State governments. "The ratepayers of this city would not be in a position to fund that project," he said. "The three-way split has been a very good partnership between the three levels of government." At the meeting, Cr Rhoades also discussed the Bonville Deviation and asked the minister to fast-track the start of the work. "He seemed positive about that and we could see some action within eight to 10 weeks," he said.