IT’S a project that has been high in demand, but one that’s likelihood has remained uncertain until now.
On Monday, member for Bathurst Paul Toole announced that the NSW Government would commit $2 million that would enable the Bridle Track to be reopened.
“We know that many people have been calling for this road to be opened since it closed in 2010,” Mr Toole said.
“When it closed in 2010, there was a large rock fall that landed on the road and made it structurally unstable, so therefore it has been closed for a long period of time.”
The $2 million will be given to Bathurst Regional Council, so it can investigate a range of available options, including an alternate route, that will allow for the road to be open to the public once again.
“That means the people in this area, the visitors to this region will be able to have access all the way through to Hill End,” Mr Toole said.
He added that reopening the famous track, taking note of the increased number of campers in the area, would boost tourism to the Bathurst region and drive the local economy.
- WATCH: Paul Toole announces funding for Bridle Track
Councillor Monica Morse, also a member of the Bridle Track Action Group, said it was great to hear that money had become available to support the reopening of the Bridle Track.
“Because it’s a heritage road, it is the most magnificent road – it’s scenery, heritage, old culverts, bricks – it is fantastic,” she said.
“We are just so excited.”
The action group has campaigned for years to see the Bridle Track reopened and there has been encouragement from the four-wheel drive community over the years as well.
Cr Morse said it won’t be an easy project, but she is confident that council will deliver a good result.
“I'm sure our engineers will work out how to do it best, but as long as you can go from Bathurst to Hill End on the Bridle Track, it will be fabulous,” she said.
Cr Warren Aubin said that two things have always stood in the way when it comes to reopening the Bridle Track, they being a lack of funding and the safety issues in the area.
He said some ideas had been presented to council before but couldn’t progress due to safety concerns.
The $2 million from the NSW Government was a “fantastic” start for the project, he said, but council would also need to chip in significantly to complete it.
Regarding safety, Cr Aubin said restrictions around what kind of vehicles can use the track may need to be considered when the road is reopened.
Due to the nature of the track, particularly if an alternate route has to be built, it may only be suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles.
“If anyone wants to go to Hill End, obviously the roads are fully sealed right through there now and we’ve spent upwards of $4 million out there on sealing those roads,” Cr Aubin said.
“So the roads are sealed out there for normal cars, but [the Bridle Track] is pristine for four-wheel driving and fishing.”
A timeline for the project couldn’t be provided, but Mr Toole said he would like to see the road reopened in twelve months time.