NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey has been unable to deliver any good news as a new push begins for a Bells Line Expressway.
Asked this week about the need for a better route over the Blue Mountains – which would slash the travelling time between the state capital and Bathurst – Ms Pavey said she understood its importance, but couldn’t commit to anything concrete.
She said any work would have to be economically justifiable.
“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,” Ms Pavey said.
“I understand that drawing a line on a map is easy, but the engineering solution to crossing the Great Dividing Range is very complicated.
“Any final design solution must weigh the economic benefits with the cost to the taxpayer.”
The Central NSW Councils (CENTROC) group has begun a campaign to get a commitment on a future Bells Line Expressway.
Asked where the government stood on the Bells Line Expressway being the long-term path between western NSW and Sydney, a spokesperson for Ms Pavey said improved transport and access was being considered in the NSW Government’s 40-year transport plan.
“An upgraded Bells Line of Road corridor is included in the draft plan, as is the vital ‘Castlereagh Connection’ corridor between the M7 and Kurrajong,” they said.
The Castlereagh Connection would link the M7 Motorway and the Bells Line but that project is listed as a “visionary initiative” for more than 20 years into the future.
There are also improvements planned for the Bells Line of Road in the next 10 years, but there is no elaboration on what those are.
Ms Pavey met with CENTROC representatives last year when she was a guest speaker at the Local Government NSW conference and her spokesperson said the minister “will be happy to meet with representatives again in 2018”.
“Her door is always open,” the spokesperson said.