The somewhat controversial planned upgrade of the Great Western Highway at Little Hartley is a step closer.
The NSW Government is counting down to the start of work on the Little Hartley to Lithgow section of the Great Western Highway upgrade with Ausconnex awarded the contract to carry out early works at Coxs River Road.
The new-look interchange at Coxs River Road will include a road bridge over the upgraded highway and will be the first phase of the west section of the highway transformation. The government says the work, when complete, will boost travel in and around the western base of the Blue Mountains.
- READ MORE:
However, the proposal was met by strong opposition from the mountains community when first mooted.
Australian Community Media reported, at the time, more than 200 submissions were made in response to a review of environmental factors, with 74 per cent objecting to the proposal.
More than two-thirds of the objections wanted alternative routes considered and many also called for the project's business case and its benefits-cost ratio to be made public.
But the submissions report said other routes had already been considered and ruled out, either because they crossed Defence Department land or because of steep grades, increased road lengths and connection issues with Jenolan Caves Road.
The business case will not be released to ensure Transport for NSW (TfNSW) retains a competitive edge when seeking tenders for the project. And the benefits/cost ratio is lower than in other areas, which was to be expected with a road project in "difficult terrain", the report said.
Residents also raised concerns about the number and size of planned rest areas. TfNSW said it would reduce the number of heavy vehicle parking spots in two of the rest areas.
It added: "Transport understands the concerns about noise, light spill, visual amenity and cleanliness of the proposed sites. The rest areas have been designed to 'fit into' the landscape and further work will be carried out throughout the detailed design phase of the project to reduce their impacts through enhanced urban design and landscaping."
The report also addressed the platypuses which have been found in the River Lett near Hartley.
In confirming Ausconnex had been awarded the contract to carry out early works at Coxs River Road, Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the "transformative" project will deliver safer and more efficient trips for thousands of people who travel over the mountains every day.
"A better road over the mountains has been talked about for years - and we're making it a reality with the project on track to see shovels in the ground early next year," Mr Toole said.
"The NSW Government is working closely with the local community on the final design to deliver a better, safer highway for all users."
ALSO MAKING NEWS:
Later this month, work will start at Coxs River Road and involve an upgrade of about 2.4 kilometres of existing highway at Little Hartley to create a four-lane divided carriageway.
A new interchange will carry Hartley traffic over the new highway and work will also include realigning parts of the existing highway to create a local service road and upgrades to the intersections with Browns Gap Road and Baaners Lane.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said early work relocating utility assets is expected to get under way soon.
"The upgrade will undoubtedly make a tangible difference to daily life for the thousands of people living in and travelling through the Blue Mountains on the highway," Mr Farraway said.
"I'm excited that we have awarded the early works contract for this section and we will soon be a step closer to our first sod turn on this game changing project."
The upgrade will undoubtedly make a tangible difference to daily life for the thousands of people.- Sam Farraway
As part of early works around four kilometres of overhead power lines and underground assets will be moved so we can build the new highway.
The contract for the major work is currently out to tender and Mr Farraway said the aim is to award that in late 2022, with work scheduled to start in early 2023.
The Australian Government and NSW Government are investing more than $4.5 billion towards duplicating the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: