One of the great unfinished road projects in central-western New South Wales is a decent road link between Orange and Mudgee across the Macquarie River at Dixons Long Point. Indeed, I often refer to it as the holy grail of unfinished road projects because people have been trying to get this link for 160 years. There have been many advocates for the crossing, including Sir Charles Cutler, the former member for Orange and Deputy Premier of New South Wales.
This project would open up the region for tourism, for commerce and for better health services. It has a huge groundswell of support in the local community, and in recent times the New South Wales and Australian governments have committed funding for feasibility reports. A lot of work has gone into those reports, which have been overseen by Cabonne Council, and I have to say they look very positive. The preferred option, a bridge over the Macquarie River at Dixons Long Point along with paving of about 40 kilometres of road, would cost about $19.3 million. The benefit-cost ratio has come in at an impressive 2.491.
The federal government recently announced the $3.5 billion Roads of Strategic Importance fund has opened, and this is all about providing better connections between regions and better access for tourism. I've already submitted the feasibility study for funding to the government, and our communities are very keen to snaffle funding for this road. It's time to get this project cracking.