NSW government commits $4.5 million to flood-proof Washpool section of Gwydir Highway

Moree Plains Shire Council director of engineering Ian Dinham, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall and Moree mayor Katrina Humphries at the Washpool on the Gwydir Highway.
Moree Plains Shire Council director of engineering Ian Dinham, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall and Moree mayor Katrina Humphries at the Washpool on the Gwydir Highway.

Moree Plains Shire Council is hopeful that the town won't be cut off from the east by the time the next flood comes through, with the state government committing $4.5 million to flood-proof the notorious Washpool section of the Gwydir Highway.

Being one of the lowest points along the Gwydir Highway, the Washpool, about 15 kilometres east of Moree, is one of the first sections of the road to be flooded.

The issue was particularly highlighted during the 2011 and 2012 floods when it was the first section of the highway to go underwater, cutting Moree off from the east.

Moree mayor Katrina Humphries has been pushing to have the section of road upgraded for more than six years.

"It cuts Pallamallawa off from Moree, it cuts Moree off from everything east," she said.

Cr Humphries recently met with Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, who committed $4.5 million to lift and rebuild a 1.1 kilometre stretch of the highway at the Washpool, providing the current state government is re-elected on March 23.

The plan is to install box culverts underneath the road to allow floodwaters to flow beneath the road surface, rather than destroying the road everytime it floods.

This section of the Gwydir Highway is often the first to go under water during a flood event.

This section of the Gwydir Highway is often the first to go under water during a flood event.

Mr Marshall said the road is often completely washed away and has to be completely reconstructed after every flood, which "is a costly exercise".

“This [upgrade] should keep this section of the highway open and negate the need to rebuild it after every flood," he said.

"With Inland Rail coming it's vital we make sure the Gwydir Highway is flood-proof. This road will be one of the major arterial roads to get goods to be loaded by rail in Moree."

Mr Marshall said now is the perfect time to undertake this work.

"This is the only thing drought is good for," he said.

"When we do get the next flood, this section of road won't be washed out and vehicles can continue to get to Moree."

Cr Humphries is "extremely excited" for this work to get underway.

"This has been a big issue for the Moree Plains Shire since the last big floods in 2012,” she said.

“Stopping this section flooding and being wrecked each time makes a lot of sense and will help keep the wheels of our local economy and the freight industry moving.”

Pending the election result, work should start later this year.