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Construction could start on Tamworth's long-delayed intermodal rail hub as early as March, according to General Manager Paul Bennett.
Transport for NSW has even started to stockpile building materials for the project, he revealed.
Mr Bennett, speaking at Friday's State of the City regional economic update, blamed bureaucracy and an initial failure to judge the scope of the project for more than two years of delay.
But Tamworth will soon wake up one morning to find him wielding a shovel at the project's groundbreaking, he said.
"We certainly hope so, and we certainly hope that to be within the next couple of months," he told the Northern Daily Leader.
The project still does not have a completed "detailed design". Once that's completed and accepted, it could take just days for the project to begin, with state government making a commitment to meet any cost of the final scheme.
The final plan is expected at the end of March.
The state government has already approved TfNSW to make $6 million in pre-construction purchases, Mr Bennett said.
The construction process will take around nine months, he said.
The $7.4 million project was announced in 2017 and touted as creating 5000 local jobs, among other benefits. It was scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2018.
In July 2018 council told the Leader it expected the first trains to be rolling through in August 2019.
In September 2019, it was revealed the designs for the project had not been finished and the timeline was once again pushed back.
On Friday the General Manager said bureaucracy had "complicated what should have been a fairly simple project."
"We're talking about building 7 kilometres of basically straight-line railway that already has its own corridor.
"The process to do that has been laborious and, we certainly think, over the top as far as its risk aversion and just simply not being able to get on with the job."
He said when the project was developed and costings done by Transport for NSW they failed to factor in some construction elements including pylons on the floodplain. But the government has committed to fund the project, whatever its ultimate cost, he said.
Transport for NSW has been contacted for this story.
This article first appeared on www.northerndailyleader.com.au
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