THE state government looks determined to buy its way out of any COVID-19 recession and the people of the Central West stand to reap the benefits.
For decades the people of this region have lobbied for improved access to Sydney but all too often the response has been a series of minor upgrades along the Great Western Highway that only patched the problem. That might finally be changing.
It was already a significant development when the state government announced its intention to build two tunnels along the highway route, taking traffic beneath Blackheath and Mount Victoria.
But - in an apparent case of in for a penny, in for a pound - it was announced on Monday that investigations were under way to assess the viability of linking those two tunnels to create an 11 kilometre tunnel that would be the longest of its type in Australia.
If it goes ahead, the tunnel would travel from just west of Mount Victoria to just east of Blackheath and could potentially cut hours off the trip west from Sydney during the worst of long weekend traffic snarls.
It would be a game changer also for business opportunities in the Central West, effectively bringing Australia's largest port closer to our doorstep.
But, just as importantly, even discussions of such a project are evidence that this government is genuinely focused on the needs of regional NSW.
For too long, the criticism of state governments either political colour has been that they struggle to look outside of Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle.
Multi-billion dollar projects such as this are exactly what is needed to change that perception.
That said, Monday's announcement was something of a political risk for Bathurst MP Paul Toole and Deputy Premier John Barilaro because it raised an expectation where none previously existed.
The pair were already riding high on confirmation of the two tunnels that are already in progress and could have sat on the 11km tunnel proposal until there was a final decision either way.
That they came out as strongly as they did on Monday, though, gives a real indication of just how confident they are that this project could be a goer.
It is above and beyond anything most thought was either possible or practical and has the potential to be a real legacy project for people living in the Central West.
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