A valuable piece in the puzzle for economic development in the Armidale region was celebrated today, as Federal, State and Council representatives officially opened the New England Highway roundabout next to Armidale Regional Airport.
Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray was joined by the Federal Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, and NSW Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall in opening the roundabout, which will provide a safer and more convenient entrance to the airport and the adjacent Armidale Regional Airport Business Park under development.
“With tenders now being called for the construction of infrastructure at the business park, the roundabout will be extremely valuable in providing connectivity to this new commercial hub,” Councillor Murray said.
“Adam and Barnaby’s support for this roundabout project, and the financial contributions of the State and Federal Governments, not only demonstrates their focus on safety on the New England Highway, it also shows they recognise the importance of the business park to this region’s economic prosperity.
“The business park overcomes a shortage of suitable commercial land in the Armidale region and fully capitalises on our first-class regional airport and our location on an important north-south highway route.”
The two-lane roundabout will significantly improve traffic flows and safety for motorists on the highway.
The $4.2 million project has been jointly funded by Council, State and the Federal Governments.
Mr Joyce said the business park and new roundabout were important factors in making the New England Highway a “corridor of commerce” and bringing economic activity to the region.
“The New England Highway is so vitally important because it’s the spine down the middle of our electorate,” he said.
Mr Marshall said it was “a very important day and another step forward in realising the larger and bolder vision for Armidale to realise its economic potential”.
“This is part of a very bold vision to grab this place by the scruff of the neck and say we’re going to grow, we’re going for growth and economic prosperity and do everything we can to create more jobs,” he said.
“The roundabout is critical, it provides those necessary linkages.”
Cr Murray said the improved entrance to the airport and business park provided by the new roundabout would help to tap into traffic along the highway and improve access for heavy vehicles.
“It will also be essential to unlock land on the other side of the highway,” he said.
“Significant development on the eastern side of the highway could not occur without a safer, more formalised entrance and exit, so this roundabout was even more important in unlocking that part of the city’s entrance.”
Cr Murray said while the roundabout’s construction was completed several months ago, the current milestones in the business park’s development and recent work by the Australian Garden History Society to help establish the structure as a model project in drought-resistant gardening made it a fitting time to have an official opening.
“Society members did an exceptional job working with Council on the landscaping, which has beautified the site while conserving precious water and provides a constant reminder about the ongoing water restrictions and our need to be more water efficient,” he said.