More Local Roads to be Fixed in the Region

More roads in the Cootamundra electorate are in line for vital repair, maintenance and sealing work with Round Four of the NSW Government’s Fixing Local Roads program now open.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said previous rounds of the program have allocated over $45 million to deliver road projects across the nine local government areas of the Cootamundra electorate.

“We have seen crucial road projects supported through every round of Fixing Local Roads and with the fourth round now open, councils in our region have the chance to apply for funding to deliver more,” Ms Cooke said.

“Works may include sealing, resurfacing, gravel road maintenance, drainage improvement and patching, leading to more reliable, safer journeys with less wear and tear on vehicles.”

“These improvements help stimulate our regional economy and contribute to the social wellbeing of families, farmers and freight who rely on these roads to get to work, education and services.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads said the NSW Government has already funded almost 500 Fixing Local Roads projects across 95 regional councils and now with Round Four opening, even more projects will get underway.

“NSW has certainly had its fair share of natural disasters and extreme weather, and while we cannot control Mother Nature, we can control our response by improving the standard of our local road network,” Mr Farraway said.

So far, the Fixing Local Roads program has provided $547 million for 498 projects over three rounds. Of these, 203 are now completed with a further 295 in the planning and construction phases.

“After 16 years, the former Labor Government left NSW with a $30 billion infrastructure backlog, our Government is building our way forward with a $19.4 billion regional roads and transport infrastructure pipeline.”

Councils in the Cootamundra electorate have until 2 September to apply for Round Four Fixing Local Roads funding. For more information on the Fixing Local Roads Program click here.

Hillas Creek Bridge at Mundarlo Upgrade

The NSW Government has today announced the Hillas Creek timber bridge at Mundarlo will receive funding through Round Two of the $500 million Fixing Country Bridges program.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke said it is fantastic that the NSW Government is investing in stronger and longer lasting infrastructure in regional NSW.

“This funding will allow for Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council to upgrade Hillas Creek Bridge from a timber bridge to concrete bridge.”

“Safer and stronger bridges will help keep motorists moving around the region for generations to come.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said $49.25 million has been awarded to replace 34 timber bridges with concrete bridges across 21 Local Government Areas (LGA).

“Our government is getting on with the job of building infrastructure to better withstand extreme weather events and protect our supply chain,” Mr Farraway said.

“That’s why we’re pushing ahead with Round 2A of the Fixing Country Bridges program in LGAs where councils are ready to get work, so these projects can get started.

A total of $290 million has already been awarded to councils under Round 1 of Fixing Country Bridges to replace more than 400 timber structures across 54 LGAs across the state.

2022-23 NSW Budget

The NSW Government is setting the stage for the State’s prosperity, delivering a budget that secures a brighter future for the Cootamundra electorate.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has welcomed the 2022-23 NSW Budget which sees continued investment in the seat of small communities, while also locking-in key projects underway across the region.

“This Budget is very welcome and builds on the significant investment we have seen in the Cootamundra electorate over recent years,” Ms Cooke said.

Local highlights include:

  • An additional $40 million for the redevelopment of Cowra Hospital, taking the total investment in this project to $110.2 million.
  • $1 million for a new CT scanner at Young.
  • $6.1 million for Aboriginal Housing.
  • $5.1 million for a social housing package, including $3.3 million for new supply, and
  • $80 million locked-in for the recently announced Temora Hospital redevelopment.

The Budget also sees continued funding of major works already in progress, including:

  • $6.4 million for the new joint-use library and community facility at Young High School.
  • $5.6 million for early works of the Wyangala Dam wall raising project.
  • $1 million for the Narrandera Fisheries Centre upgrade.
  • $5.6 million to commence planning for the upgrade of Sheahan Bridge on the Hume Highway at Gundagai.
  • $68.4 million for the planning and construction of overtaking lanes along the full length the Newell Highway, including 10 overtaking lanes in the electorate with four built, five in construction and one in development.

Highlights for regional communities more broadly include: 

  • $1.3 billion to boost to the Regional Growth Fund, including $250 million to expand the Stronger Country Communities Fund, $220 for the Resources for Regions program and $100 million for the Regional Job Creation Fund.
  • $2.4 billion over 10 years to boost the rural and regional health workforce.
  • $210.2 million for the Fixing Local Roads and Fixing Country Bridges programs to better support regional councils.
  • $163.9 million to bolster biosecurity measures.
  • $149.5 million over four years to expand access to, and eligibility for, the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme.
  • $46.5 million over four years to substantially expand and enhance Headspace services, ensuring it can reach more young people across the State. This is on top of the $27.0 million previously invested in the service since July 2021.
  • $743 million over five years to ensure NSW residents have access to the highest quality care and pain management services for end-of-life care.
  • $5.8 billion over 10 years to introduce a high-quality universal pre-Kindergarten year for all children in New South Wales in the year before school by 2030.
  • $16.5 billion over 10 years to break the barriers to opportunity for women and help give our children the best start in life including by investing in affordable and accessible childcare and creating a universal year of prekindergarten in the year before school.
  • More than $7.2 billion in cost-of-living measures, including the Premier’s Back to School program and new Energy Bill Buster Program.
  • $2.8 billion to help more families find a place to call home, including $728.6 million for tax reform to help people own their first home.
  • $59 million to support Regional Youth including more Youth Community Coordinators and programs to boost youth employment.

“This is just a snapshot of the investment being made thanks to the NSW Nationals in government,” Ms Cooke said.

“I am very proud to be part of a team working hard to secure a brighter future for the seat of small communities, and I look forward to sharing more details about these Budget announcements over coming days.”

For more information about the 2022/23 NSW Budget please visit: 2022-23 NSW Budget Papers

Better Bus Shelters for Coolamon, Cowra and Junee

Six new shelters and one upgraded bus stop for Coolamon, Cowra and Junee are on the way after funding was granted under the latest round of the NSW Government’s Country Passenger Transport Infrastructure Grants Scheme.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the local community is set to benefit from $69,500 in grants for improved infrastructure at local bus stops.

“This improved infrastructure will see Coolamon Shire receiving one upgraded bus stop and one new shelter, Cowra Shire receiving two new shelters and Junee Shire will receive three new shelters. This is a worthwhile investment into safety and accessibility for our local bus-farers,” Ms Cooke said.

“Safety is an important aspect of the upgrade works, which include installing aids such as guide rails, tactile ground surface indicators and lighting, and improving kerbside access and in some cases, an upgraded or new shelter.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the funding for the Cootamundra electorate is part of the latest round of the NSW Government’s Country Passenger Transport Infrastructure Grants Scheme (CPTIGS) to improve bus stop infrastructure. 

“This scheme is part of the NSW Government’s commitment to provide accessible public transport infrastructure across the state and I’m pleased to announce this latest round of grants, totalling more than $2.1 million,” Mr Farraway said.

The scheme provides subsidies to support the construction or upgrade of bus stop infrastructure owned and maintained by local councils across regional NSW.  

44 regional councils, community groups and schools applied for the grants under the latest round of the scheme.

For more information on CPTIGS, visit

Stage Two of Safety Work on the Newell Highway to Begin

Work is set to begin next week on the second of three stages of pavement rehabilitation to improve safety on the Newell Highway.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the NSW Government has funded $3.5 million for this stage of work which will provide a safer and stronger road on a 1.8-kilometre section of the Newell Highway West of Grong Grong.

“Resurfacing and widening this stretch of road will improve the safety and driving experience for motorists,” Ms Cooke said.

“These enhancements will make the road more reliable, reducing the need for regular maintenance.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the NSW Government is committed to ensuring a safe and reliable road network for motorists across the state. 

“The Newell Highway is the main inland road link from Victoria to Queensland. It is used as a major freight transport route and connects a number of inland urban centres, including Dubbo and Parkes, Mr Farraway said.

“This work follows from the $2.5 million worth of road rehabilitation safety improvements carried on a 1.4-kilometre section of the Newell Highway near Gawnes Road in 2019. Stage 2 will continue these improvements further west along the Newell.”

Work on road rehabilitation, road widening, line marking and vegetation removal will start near Gawnes Road and join up with the Newell Highway realignment at Grong Grong.

Work will be carried out between 6am and 6pm Monday to Friday from Monday 16 May until Friday 9 September, weather permitting.

Traffic control, single lane closures and reduced speed limit of 40 km/h will be in place during work. Motorist are advised to allow for an additional five minutes travel time.

Transport for NSW thanks motorists for their patience while work is carried out. For the latest traffic updates call 132 701, visit or download the Live Traffic NSW app.

New Bridges Improving Freight Access in Hilltops

A 43-metre-long span over Wambanumba Creek is one of four recently completed bridges in the Hilltops LGA that will improve freight access and enhance road safety. 

The Wambanumba Creek Bridge was officially opened today by the Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke, alongside the Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack and Hilltops Council Mayor Margaret Roles.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said due to structural issues, the previous bridge had been out of action for some years, but now an important connection has been returned for freight vehicles, school buses and general traffic.

“This new bridge ensures around 150,000 tonnes of essential agricultural produce like farm feed, eggs, grain and livestock can be transported more efficiently,” Ms Cooke said.

The replacement Wambanumba Creek Bridge received $1.23 million in funding through NSW Government’s Fixing Country Roads program in 2019.

“In addition to this project, the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Roads program has also funded the $2.46 million Hannons Bridge on Murringo Gap Road, the $2.58 million Cudgell Creek Bridge on the Old Forbes Road, along with the $2.26 million Spring Creek Road bridge development,” Ms Cooke added.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said projects such as Hannons Creek Bridge, which resulted in a wider concrete structure suitable for B-Double truck access, will help boost the local area’s economy.  

“The Hannons Creek Bridge project will reduce travel times for over 4,000 heavy vehicle movements a year, helping cut costs for the freight industry,” Mr Farraway said. 

“There will also be safety benefits as heavy vehicles can connect more directly with major routes and there will be reduced wear and tear on local roads.”  Since the commencement of the Fixing Country Roads program, Hilltops Council has received more than $17 million, including $10 million for bridge replacements, upgrades and repairs and $7 million for other road projects to improve freight access. 

Road Safety Improvements for Hume Highway as Part of Safer Roads Program

The Hume Highway is set to benefit from $815,000 in vital road safety works as the fifth round of the $822 million Safer Roads Program begins to roll out.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the program, which is funded through the Community Road Safety Fund and delivered in partnership with local councils, will deliver 44 new projects and fund the continuation of a number of projects from previous rounds.

“This project is a big win not only for our local region but the many freight operators and interstate travellers that drive along the Hume Highway,” Ms Cooke said

 “This funding will go towards the installation of vehicle activated signs and safety barriers at Mundarlo to ensure road users are kept as safe as possible when travelling along the route.”

“The NSW Government is committed to reducing the road toll and it’s estimated the Safer Roads Program will prevent around 1500 serious injuries and deaths on NSW roads over 15 years.”

Minister for Regional Roads and Transport Sam Farraway said that the NSW Government is committed to reducing this trauma and that is why the majority of funding for the Safer Roads Program has been invested in regional NSW.

“Country people make up around a third of NSW’s population but over the past five years deaths on country roads made up 67 per cent of our road toll,” Mr Farraway said.

“We are investing $640 million into the Saving Lives on Country Roads Initiative, and since 2018 have committed to delivering 469 projects in regional NSW to help prevent the serious injuries and deaths of country drivers.

“During 2022/23, $89 million will be invested in the Saving Lives on Country Roads Initiative to fund 24 new regional projects as well as a number of ongoing projects in regional NSW.

“The Safer Roads program is estimated to prevent around 1500 serious injuries and deaths on NSW roads over 15 years.”

Statewide this round of the Safer Roads Program will deliver:

  • 32 kilometres of safety barriers, which absorb impact forces and protect vehicle occupants, reducing the severity of head-on and run-off-road crashes by up to 95 per cent.
  • 32 kilometres of rumble strips to alert motorists they are departing from their lane, reducing the likelihood of this crash type by up to 25 per cent.
  • 110 high-risk rural curve improvements including shoulder sealing, safety barriers, rumble strips, signage upgrades and line-marking upgrades.
  • 14 urban intersection improvement projects including roundabouts and traffic signal upgrades.

See here for the full list of successful projects in NSW.

Construction of New Hangar and Club Room Almost Complete at Cowra Airport

The construction of a new hanger and club room at the Cowra and District Aero Club is steaming ahead thanks to the NSW Governments $325,485 investment into the project under Round 3 of the Stronger Country Communities Fund. 

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke recently visited the site at the Cowra Airport alongside Cowra and District Aero Club members and Mayor Bill West to view the major developments.

“The new facilities will be a great asset to the Cowra and District Aero Club who provide high-quality flight training to people of all ages who are interested in aviation, whether it be for leisure or to pursue a career as a qualified pilot,” Ms Cooke said.

“The club is really making its mark in the industry as being an outstanding choice for those seeking out highly professional flight training with students enrolling from as far as Sydney and Canberra.”

“Cowra has become a great hub for those wanting to learn foundational aviation skills in a regional setting.”

The Cowra Aero Club currently offers three types of training including an introductory trial instructional flight, obtaining a Recreational Aviation Australia certificate and the more advanced Cross Country Endorsement.

Cowra and District Aero Club President and Senior Instructor David Shaw said that the previous facilities were no longer meeting the ever growing demand.

“The old hangar had to be dismantled and the old club room acted as the terminal, which ultimately pushed the club into a side room that was no longer sufficient for the needs of training new pilots,” Mr Shaw said.

“These new upgrades will allow us to increase our current capabilities, expanding on teaching and becoming a better facility to introduce young people in particular to all aspects of aviation.”

“The new hangar and clubroom will enable us to continue training future pilots as a Recreational Aviation Australia flying school and act as a stepping stone for those who seek to not only be a recreational pilot, but those who wish to train and become a commercial pilot or pilot with the Royal Australian Air Force, or even those who hope to become involved in the maintenance or engineering aspects of aviation professions.”

The concrete pour is expected next week with door installation to follow before moving onto the construction of the club room section.

The group is holding a club day this Sunday May 1 for all of its 36 members which is a great opportunity to catch up socially and revise their skills.

Final Design Ready for New Bridge at Wallendbeen

The final design for the new permanent bridge at Wallendbeen has been completed and construction is expected to begin later this year.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said this is welcome news for residents and transport operators who have been living with a temporary single-lane steel bridge after a wet weather event severely damaged the original road-over-rail bridge last year.

“With about 1000 vehicles travelling along this road corridor in each direction every day, the new bridge will bring improved travel times as it returns a two-lane crossing to motorists,” Ms Cooke said.

“The new permanent bridge has been designed to Australian Standards for bridge design, and will be wider than both the original and temporary bridge, able to accommodate B-Doubles and even larger trucks.”

“Construction is expected to begin later this year. This timeframe allows for the tender advertisement and evaluation period, the contract award and site preparation.”

“Once construction starts, it is estimated the bridge will take about a year to complete, weather permitting.”

The original two-lane bridge was removed in March last year after being damaged from a wet weather event.

Transport for NSW installed a single-lane temporary steel bridge in October 2021 to get traffic back on Burley Griffin Way as quickly as possible.

The temporary bridge will remain in place while the new bridge is built.  

Transport will contact the community later this year with further information when a start date is confirmed.