NATIONALS MPs from western NSW have been told they have a chance to show the party holds sway with the Liberal Party by getting the groundwork started on a Bells Line Expressway.
Bathurst Business Chamber president Angus Edwards says a fast and efficient path through the Blue Mountains would be a much better investment than the $2 billion the NSW Government will spend on knocking down and rebuilding two stadiums in Sydney.
And with the Coalition in power at both state and federal level, he says there is a chance to work together to make it happen.
“There is a real opportunity here to get it done with the Nationals MPs and Phil Donato in Orange,” Mr Edwards said.
“With the same party holding both levels of government, it seems like the perfect time for the Nationals to demonstrate the political will to make it happen and prove they aren’t the poor cousins to a city-centric government.”
The Bathurst Business Chamber has long supported the expressway, Mr Edwards said, though he pointed out most in the Central West and Orana were in favour.
“This is a regional issue that affects everyone west of the Blue Mountains,” he said. “A good road to Sydney would allow residents to get down to Sydney easier, but would also enhance tourism by making weekend trips easier.
“There is the benefit for freight and transport - it will be quicker and easier to get goods to market. Then there is the road safety issue.”
The long-talked-about Bells Line Expressway is back in the news after Central NSW Councils (Centroc) said it would lobby the NSW Government to have the expressway added to its draft 40-year transport plan.
The significance of a direct link between western NSW and Sydney, and the scale of the project, would be enough to make it a major national project, Mr Edwards said.
“The real point about the stadiums is that there are already perfectly good stadiums and I believe the economic study showed there wasn’t going to be any real economic benefit,” he said.
“Two billion dollars would go a long way to getting the expressway built.
“I think it would be considered a nation-building project.”
Sydney was almost full, Mr Edwards said, and an expressway would allow Lithgow to act as a suburb of western Sydney and ease some of the pressure on the Sydney basin.
And while some might be sceptical the project would ever happen, Mr Edwards said there was also scepticism about a daily return rail service between Bathurst and Sydney, which the government made a reality in 2012.
“People said that would never happen, that it would cost too much, but by people not giving up and getting the point across it was achieved,” he said.
“Everyone needs to talk to their local member and make sure those who are elected know that people want a Bells Line Expressway. That is the best way to keep the pressure on.”