It's been a long process but finally a breakthrough has emerged.
After almost 10 years of lobbying, Goulburn Mulwaree Council will become the master of Auburn Street's destiny.
The parallel running Sloane Street will also be handed over to the state government to maintain.
An independent panel's interim report into the NSW Road Reclassification and Regional Road Transport has recommended the move, which effectively swaps responsibility.
The report, released last week, recommended in a priority round that Auburn Street change from a state to local road. The panel also flagged that Sloane Street, Grafton and Reynolds Street should alter from a local to state road.
Local Government Minister Paul Toole said the government had accepted this and other recommendations for transfer of 391km of regional roads across eight council areas. The overall aim is to "lighten" local government's infrastructure backlog.
"The Independent Expert Panel's interim report identifies the most urgent of these for priority transfer, and sets a rigorous, evidence-based roadmap for the main round, which will open on September 27," he said.
It's music to Cr Kirks ears. Goulburn Mulwaree has been lobbying for the transfer since about 2012.
"It's a great outcome," he told The Post.
"Transport for NSW has (already) given us some free rein with the main street, knowing that our main aim is beautification, rather than it still being used for highway traffic. We're happy it's been accepted."
The council has undertaken comprehensive improvements in recent years, in part guided by its CBD strategy. This has included paving, tree planting, planter boxes, artificial turf on the median strip, banner poles, seating and other street furniture.
Cr Kirk said Transport for NSW gave the council in-principle approval to continue the program, provided it didn't impede traffic safety.
He and the council have consistently argued that Sloane Street has become the alternative heavy vehicle route and therefore should be a state road. In contrast, fewer trucks were using the more pedestrian frequented Auburn Street.
But the process became mired in bureaucracy after TfNSW estimated it would cost $6.5 million to bring the thoroughfare up to standard.
The panel's road review resolved this hurdle. Mr Toole said communities expected that when a regional road was transferred to the State's ownership, it should be upgraded to the appropriate standard.
"(That is) why we allocated $250 million in this year's budget towards upgrading transferred roads, and we'll be getting on with that in coming months," he said.
The department will liaise with individual councils regarding an ongoing maintenance program, utilising the local workforce.
In total, 31.39km were recommended to be transferred from local to state roads in the priority round. There were 39 submissions for overall classification changes.
Cr Kirk said Sloane Street was "coping" as a heavy vehicle route but Auburn Street had its surface failings, which the council would look to address.
While Goulburn Mulwaree was successful with this road swap request, others would have to wait. These were to reclassify as regional roads:
- Sandy Point Road/Cullulla Road/Lumley Road (between Oallen Ford Road and Braidwood Road at Tarago) and;
- Windellama Road between Braidwood Road and Oallen Ford Road at Windellama.
It also wanted Goldsmith Street between Auburn and Sloane Street to be reclassified as a state road, given its heavy vehicle use.
Councils can lodge further submissions from September 27 and the panel will consider these and make recommendations to government in its final report.
Meantime, Goulburn Mulwaree last week secured a $1.567 state Fixing Local Roads grant for Deccan Street's rehabilitation between Goldsmith Street and Clinton Street.
Cr Kirk said it was welcome funding for the heavy-vehicle route.
"It will put the polish and finish on the route and the venues it services, like Victoria Park, the aquatic centre and high school," he said.
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