THE NSW Government has announced a massive investment into regional roads.
Under its $95 million plan, announced on June 25, the government will bypass Blackheath and Mount Victoria, duplicate the Great Western Highway and begin upgrades of the Bells Line of Road.
Planning is underway for a 30-kilometre duplication of the Great Western Highway from Katoomba to Forty Bends, which will provide a safe and efficient link between the Central West and the Sydney motorway network.
Member for Paul Toole has been pushing for the work behind the scenes and received a great deal of praise when he was joined for the announcement by Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance.
Mr Toole said that the plan would deliver faster and safer passages over the mountains, something that people have wanted for years.
“This is fantastic for people of the Central West,” he said.
“We’ve really taken the next step in actually supercharging transport options for people living west of the great divide.”
One of the first steps in the plan will be a $30 million upgrade to the Great Western Highway between Kelso and Raglan, extending the work recently carried out at Kelso.
This is slated for a $10 million spend over the 2018-19 financial year.
The plan also includes a $28 million upgrade to Chifley Road at Scenic Hill on Bells Line, with $5 million to be spent in 2018-19, and $22 million on the Clarence rail bridge, $6 million of this allocated in 2018-19.
There is $15 million allocated in 2018-19 to planning for the highway duplication from Katoomba to Lithgow.
In addition to the significant spend on major roads, it was announced there would be a multi-agency task force assembled in Bathurst to deliver a transport masterplan.
“We're absolutely delighted that former Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie has agreed to set up a task force and be part and lead that task force for the transport options for the Central West,” Ms Pavey said.
“And he will work alongside our great mayors of Central ... to ensure that everybody is involved in the conversation about the future of these communities.”
Further to this, Mr Constance said the Central West is an “incredible” region for productivity in the state and had to be supported.
“So what I’ve done is I’ve asked our regional infrastructure coordinator in NSW, Ken Gillespie – someone who brings enormous respect from a lot of people across the board – to do a very deep dive on the way in which we can better integrate our freight tasks with our passenger transport tasks, and of course our road tasks, into the future,” he said.