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THE federal government has awarded a $13.5 million contract for “feasibility design work” related to the Inland Rail project between Narromine and Narrabri to JacobsGHD Inland Rail Joint Venture.
This will mark the start of environmental, social and geophysical studies that will narrow the corridor from five kilometres wide in parts to between 40 and 60 metres.
The announcement was made this morning.
Federal MP for Parkes and Assistant Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Mark Coulton said he welcomed the announcement that work on the Environmental Impact Assessment will begin in coming months.
“This is critical work which will help to narrow the current preferred study corridor from up to five kilometres to a final alignment of 40-60 metres,” Mr Coulton said.
“This is the whole box and dice, it’s a huge amount of money,” he said.
The 300km Narromine-to-Narrabri section of Inland Rail will cross 300 individual properties involving direct communication with all property owners.
And it agains brings to the fore the issue of physical access to properties.
Mr Coulton said this phase of the project would help clearly define the exact route, but said the beginning of construction was still two years off.
He said the narrower corridor would allay some concerns, because some landholders who are now worried the railway will cut through their properties might find their properties are not directly affected at all.
It might also be the precursor to compensation claims and people walking away from their properties.
“It’s a really crucial stage for landowners to try and get the best outcome they can,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack said the latest contract is one of many set to be awarded this year for the 1700km project.
“Today’s contract award takes the Narromine to Narrabri project another step forward,” Mr McCormack said this morning.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the feasibility design contract is part of the Australian government’s commitment to strengthen private sector investment in regional communities.
“There is plenty of community interest in the design of Inland Rail,” Senator Cormann said.
“As these contracts are awarded and feasibility designs progress, more detail will become available, building on preliminary investigations and community engagement already carried out by the ARTC (the Australian Rail Track Corporation).”
This article first appeared on www.narrominenewsonline.com.au
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