THE NSW Government has announced a landmark investment into roads that is set to benefit regional areas and their residents.
On Monday, it was announced that $95 million would be spent on upgrades to Bells Line of Road as well as planning for a bypass of Blackheath and Mount Victoria and duplication of the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow.
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole was joined in Bathurst by Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, to make the massive announcement.
He said that the plan would deliver faster and safer passages over the mountains, something that people have wanted for years.
“This is a fantastic day for people of the Central West,” he said. “Today, 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.