ROADS Minister Melinda Pavey’s answers to questions this week about a better crossing of the Blue Mountains could almost have come from two different people.
Ms Pavey the country member wanted to emphasise she is from the bush and she understands the bush.
“As a country minister I am very passionate about Central West issues and as Roads Minister I am keenly aware of the Bells Line of Road issue as local Nationals members routinely knock on my door,” she said.
But Ms Pavey the senior member of the NSW Government wanted to dampen any expectation that anything would be done about a better connection between Sydney and the Central West any time soon.
“I understand that drawing a line on a map is easy, but the engineering solution to crossing the Great Dividing Range is very complicated,” she said.
“Any final design solution must weigh the economic benefits with the cost to the taxpayer.”
Ms Pavey, unfortunately, cannot have it both ways.
Of course, any engineering solution to crossing the Great Dividing Range is very complicated, and of course, any final design must weigh the economic benefits with the cost.
But those behind this new push for a Bells Line Expressway are not expecting the NSW Government to commit next week to a route, a funding timeline and a date for a ribbon-cutting.
They’re just looking for a bit of interest.
They want to hear that a better connection is being thought about or talked about. That it’s on someone’s to-look-at list. This latest push began because room for a Bells Line Expressway could not even be found in the state’s 40-year draft transport plan – and if it’s not on a 40-year plan, what plan will ever incorporate it?
Ms Pavey cannot have it both ways because if she’s a country member who is passionate about the Central West, who routinely has Nationals MPs from this area knocking on her door, then she will understand that the Central West wants a quicker and safer way to get to Sydney, without traffic lights, constant speed limit changes and stretches of one lane in each direction.
If a better crossing of the Blue Mountains is not even going to be a consideration for this big-building NSW Government, then the Central West needs to resign itself to a slow trek to Sydney for many years to come.