The Federal Government has provided $150 million to the New South Wales Government to deliver 36 flood mitigation infrastructure and community resilience projects across all seven local government areas in the Northern Rivers impacted by the devastating 2022 floods.

The new projects are being rolled out as part of the Northern Rivers Recovery and Resilience Program (NRRRP), including bridge expansions, upgraded pumps, enhanced evacuation routes and nature-based projects. 

A number of the projects are now moving from design to delivery phase and aim to reduce the impact of future disasters to create a better position for communities to recover faster.

A key project of the NRRRP is the $40 million expansion of the two bridges which provide access to Ballina Island. To improve evacuation capabilities during flood events, the bridges at Fishery Creek and Tamarind Drive in Ballina, will be duplicated to create dual lane access.

This construction is expected to significantly improve evacuation times, reducing the risk to lives in Ballina, and potentially curb infrastructure repair costs by minimising localised road flooding.

A further two bridges will be built in Tatham along the Woodburn to Coraki Road, improving evacuation routes, access for emergency services, and vital supply routes in the Richmond Valley. In total, the four new bridges represent $58 million of the $150 million funding for the NRRRP.

Another significant project being rolled out in Lismore CBD is the installation of an electric pump station at Lismore Rowing Club, which currently requires a tractor to be driven to the site to operate it manually during flood events.

The new pump is one of $31.5 million worth of projects that will come to life under the NRRRP in Lismore. This list includes the refurbishment of flood gates, drainage improvements, works on flood channels and the upgrade of several pumps.

Outside of Lismore, work is already underway on several of the NRRRP projects including $5.7 million to repair the structural integrity of the Woodburn to Coraki Road at Bungawalbin and Swan Bay in the Richmond Valley, one of the last sections of main road in the area to reopen following the floods.

The first NRRRP project has been completed, which was a small study to evaluate options for flood free access to Junction Hill via the Summerland Way in Grafton.

Further on-ground works and project management for NRRRP projects will be coordinated by the New South Wales Reconstruction Authority (RA) in accordance with the Emergency Response Fund Northern Rivers Recovery and Resilience Program 2022-23 – Federation Funding Agreement.

To ensure local businesses know about the NRRRP’s technical requirements and the pipeline of projects, the RA held industry briefings in Murwillumbah on 3 April and in Casino on 4 April, with over 80 people in attendance at both.

Federal Special Envoy for Disaster Recovery, Senator Tony Sheldon, said that it is exciting to see these mitigation and long-term resilience projects in the Northern Rivers underway, and that he is proud to support disaster prone communities to prepare to withstand future weather events.

“While we are continuing to work with the New South Wales Government to deliver the right infrastructure to help protect and mitigate against future disasters, it’s really important that we recognise this significant milestone in the region’s recovery.”

New South Wales Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully, said that these 36 projects help support the Northern Rivers Region to drive long-term resilience for the community.

“Each of these projects aim to mitigate the impact of future disasters and allow the community to recover more quickly,” Minister Scully said. 

Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Recovery, Janelle Saffin, said that many of these projects have been suggested by community members or been on councils’ books for many years without the funds to implement them.

“It’s a vital first step towards mitigation, adaptation and building resilience and restoring community confidence before the next disaster strikes.”

Image credit: Leah-AnneThompson/shutterstock.com

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