THE head of a central councils organisation says he is pleased with the progress on connecting western Sydney with the Central West.
John Medcalf, chair of the Central NSW Joint Organisation, which includes Bathurst, said regional mayors met with Bathurst MP and Minister for Regional Roads Paul Toole recently.
He said they received an update on the NSW Government's planned duplication of the Great Western Highway from Katoomba to Lithgow, which includes plans for a long tunnel.
"A safe, swift link between Sydney and Central NSW remains a priority for our communities," Cr Medcalf said.
He said mayors were updated on the planning for a tunnel to reduce the gradient down the western escarpment.
The NSW Government, meanwhile, recently released revised designs for the 1.2-kilometre duplication of the highway at Medlow Bath.
That work is expected to take around 20 months to complete, weather permitting, starting in late 2022.
Review of environmental factors documents for the section from Katoomba to Medlow Bath and Medlow Bath to Blackheath; and the section from Little Hartley to Lithgow are due to be available for exhibition and consultation late this year.
The NSW and federal governments have each contributed to the overall multi-billion dollar project.
"The safety, time and productivity benefits are so important for our visitors, our freight and for us as we travel to and from Sydney," Cr Medcalf said of the highway duplication.
"Reducing congestion and separating people from trucks are key components of the upgrades planned between Katoomba and Lithgow.
"It has to work for the communities of the Blue Mountains.
"It is always a balance where safety comes first.
"This is a very big opportunity and the mayors of the region are keen to ensure that we realise every part of it."
The Medlow Bath Action Group says the highway duplication through its village "will turn the town centre into a five-lane freight corridor".