COUNCILLOR Ian North could not be happier to hear that the residents of Raglan will finally get the better road they’ve been waiting for.
On Monday, the NSW Government announced that it would be investing $95 million into roads into the Central West, starting construction in some areas in the 2018-19 financial year.
One of the projects on that list is a $30 million upgrade to the Great Western Highway between Kelso and Raglan, effectively a continuation of the works that were carried out from late 2014 to early 2017 through Kelso.
Throughout the construction, Cr North was very vocal about his desire to see the project continued through to Raglan as the entry to Bathurst is very much “the gateway to the Central West”.
When speaking to the Western Advocate on Wednesday, Cr North said he had not given up on the idea over the years and continually asked Member for Bathurst Paul Toole about the status of the project.
“Every time I saw him I kept bugging him about it,” he said.
He also asked Bathurst Regional Council’s general manager, David Sherley, to write letters advocating the need for dual lanes.
So when Cr North heard this week that it would finally happen, he was thrilled.
“It has been like the CCTV; this has been a battle I have kept plugging away on,” he said.
Cr North is also happy to see the government will be investigating the potential of bypassing Mount Victoria and Blackheath.
If a bypass is possible, it would take time off the trip to Sydney and potentially make life and work in Bathurst attractive to more people.
“Over the years, I have to admit, the roads have been better and the time has been less, but any improvements that way just makes it a lot easier and a lot more attractive,” Cr North said.
He also thinks it will be good for Blackheath and Mount Victoria residents, who constantly have high volumes of traffic passing by.
The idea of business opportunities becoming more accessible has also been welcomed by the Bathurst Business Chamber.
President Angus Edwards said the chamber would like to see the travel time between metropolitan areas and the Central West decrease, however he said to remember there is only money allocated to investigate creating a bypass.
“At the moment, the Great Western Highway can’t handle the traffic,” Mr Edwards said.
“A bypass will decrease travel time, but it is only a study at this point.”
He said the announcement felt, to him, like a political move to secure the support of Central West voters.
However, he added that the investment in roads is still a positive step, but an expressway remains the best option.
“The great disappointment is that, with all that Snowy Hydro money and the budget surplus, that regional NSW is again not sharing in the real money and the real opportunity to make a difference, and that will only happen with an expressway to Sydney,” he said.
On the dual lanes to Raglan, Mr Edwards said the business chamber was pleased to see that project on the agenda, admitting it should have been part of the initial expansion of the highway at Kelso.
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The chamber expects the project will create construction jobs for people in Bathurst.