YOUR recent editorial (Costly Job, But One We Can't Afford To Ignore, Western Advocate, November 25) is spot on.
You write that "fixing the trip between Bathurst and Sydney will a big job, a time-consuming job and a costly job, but it's one we must keep pursuing".
But anyone who thinks that there can be "a safe and fast road from Lithgow to Penrith where you can travel at 100km/h", to quote Minister Toole, is way off the mark.
The proposed long tunnel under Blackheath (Medlow Bath, you miss out) is technically possible but will cost a fortune.
A surface route is impossible.
The same applies to the Bells route. It was rejected years ago due to cost.
It would also destroy a significant part of a World Heritage Area.
Transport for NSW has a poor record for managing big projects. Many have gone well over budget and well over time.
The Government's $53.5 million purchase of a highly contaminated parcel of land near Parramatta for the light rail is the most recent example.
We already know that only a small amount of money has been committed to the project.
Where is the rest coming from?
It might be through a toll. Recent correspondence to this writer from Transport for NSW (TfNSW) stated: "We are fully exploring road user charges as part of the Program Strategic Business Case."
However, in earlier correspondence dating from August (before the tunnel became the preferred option) they wrote: "There is no suggestion that the Great Western Highway will become subject to tolls or other road user charges."
Why the contradiction? Too many other questions remain.
Why won't they release traffic data, not mention the Strategic Business Plan? Why won't they at least examine the rail options? Why are they ignoring the other two routes to the Sydney Basin? Why have they placed a limit on any container port in Newcastle?
Will people in the Central West be willing to pay a toll to get to Penrith? Will the government "do a Northconnex" by fining truck drivers $194 if they try to avoid paying a toll for a tunnel under Blackheath?
Will Bathurst people be willing to pay $8 to avoid Blackheath?
What about tradespeople who live in Mount Victoria and have to travel daily to or past Katoomba? $16+ every work day?
Are they being up front with us? Does the government actually know what it is doing?
There are two councillors of Blue Mountains City Council who do.
They have just resigned from the Liberal Party saying that the party has been taken over by a "pro-development" faction and that "at state and local level in particular, the Liberal Party seems to be in opposition to the values of the people of the Blue Mountains who just want their quality of life maintained".
Those two councillors clearly care about the people they represent and are willing to stand by their principles.
Well done to them and to Catherine Cusack on the koala legislation.
Chris O'Rourke, Bathurst
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