Major step taken in Newell Highway flood immunity project

10 August 2021

Work to improve flood immunity on various sections of the Newell Highway between West Wyalong and Forbes is one step closer, with the $200 million project now in the early design stage.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said with the preliminary environmental investigation now complete, the focus had shifted to the strategic and concept design stage.

“The flood-prone Newell Highway between West Wyalong and Forbes has a history of road closures during periods of heavy rain and flooding in the Lachlan Catchment,” Mr Toole said.

“In September 2016, multiple sections of the highway, totalling 20 kilometres, were flooded, which cut off businesses, residents and freight, and caused significant damage to the local economy, which is why we committed $200 million to flood-proof the Newell in this area.”

The highway was closed for 43 days, cutting access to local communities and freight operators that rely on the stretch to get goods to market.

“The NSW Government plans to improve the highway’s flood immunity between Compton Road in West Wyalong and Hereford Street in Forbes by achieving one lane open under traffic control in a flood event similar to the 2016 floods.

“The project will also aim to achieve a minimum flood immunity for a 1-in-20 year flood event, and assess options for flood immunity for up to a 1-in-50 year flood event, to deliver a stronger road for future generations.”

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said work is expected to be delivered in sections, improving up to 20 kilometres of the 110-kilometre stretch between the two towns.

“With the NSW freight task set to grow by 28 per cent by 2036, it’s important we invest in vital road infrastructure projects like this now to ensure we cater for additional movements for years to come,” Ms Cooke said.

“The goal is to provide increased flood immunity along the Newell Highway to prevent any further closures from happening again, but we also want to make sure we don’t worsen future flood impacts for adjacent properties.

“I thank the community for their patience as we work through incredibly complex flood modelling and consult property owners and businesses to ensure that the strategic design improve the flood resilience of the road without shifting the impacts elsewhere.”

Member of the Legislative Council Sam Farraway said environmental specialists were engaged at the end of last year to carry out the preliminary environmental investigation.

“Work to review existing flood studies and preliminary identification of flora and fauna species along the length of the project has now been completed,” Mr Farraway said.

“The next stage of design will include field and data collection, flood modelling and analysis, road design, estimating, further environmental assessment and extensive consultation with nearby landholders and key stakeholders.

“It’s great to see we’re powering ahead with the next stage of this project because the Newell Highway is the freight backbone of the State.”

Over the next three months, consultation will continue with local residents, especially during the development of the flood model, to collect flood data.

The strategic and concept design stage also includes option selection, road design estimating, environmental assessment and further consultation.  

Transport for NSW will keep the community informed as the project progresses.

For more information on the project, visit

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