WHEN the Great Western Highway widening at Kelso was officially opened in March last year, few would have thought an extension to that work would be announced less than 18 months later.
But that was the news delivered when Transport Minister Andrew Constance and Roads Minister Melinda Pavey came to town late last month.
At this stage, we know that there’ll be two new lanes built on the highway for 3.5 kilometres from the outskirts of Kelso to Raglan and the project will have a budget of $30 million.
But while we wait for further details, we can use the city’s experience with the Kelso widening as a guide to what is to come.
First, the bad: there will be dust, there will be delays for drivers and there will be frustration.
The almost two-and-a-half years of work on the duplication of the highway through Kelso tested the patience of everyone in Bathurst, but particularly so those who had to travel that way into the CBD for work.
Like every big infrastructure project, it seemed at one stage like it was never going to end.
And then it did end, and the bad memories have quickly faded.
We’ll have to accept that the eastern entrance to the city will again be a construction zone for some time. But the end result – as it was with the Kelso work – will be worth it.
Next, the good: apart from the obvious benefits of a duplicated highway (increased safety, more overtaking opportunities, another small reduction in the time it takes to get to Sydney), this next stage of work is also likely to bring investment to that part of the city.
We’ve already seen it with the Kelso work.
Before the end of the Kelso highway duplication, Clancy Motors had completed and moved into its new location next to what would soon be the dual lanes, leaving its restricted CBD sites after decades. And by the end of the highway duplication, earthmoving work had started on the Gateway commercial development on land opposite Harvey Norman.
Both were projects which had been planned for some time. The highway duplication, however, provided an impetus.
The corridor between Kelso and Raglan, like the corridor through Kelso, is likely to be changed in more ways than one by this announced work.
And we’ll be watching with interest.