The people of Central West NSW will get the honest conversation they deserve on the future of the Bells Line of Road and Great Western Highway, Roads Minister Melinda Pavey has said.
The NSW government will release costings and time frames for short and long term works on the links between the Central West and Sydney in the coming weeks.
Ms Pavey said fears the Castlereagh Corridor, the vital link between Kurrajong and the M7 Motorway wouldn’t be preserved were unfounded, with an announcement due soon.
“I understand the community’s passion for this. This is has been a subject of vigorous discussion since Ian Armstrong and Mick Clough joined together to put it on government’s agenda,” the Minister said.
“I accept there has been a hell of a lot of talk and I can understand why the community might be frustrated that action isn’t there.”
Ms Pavey was due to meet with the Central NSW Councils (Centroc) on Friday night but said that was just the start of discussions, which may include a public forum, on the future of the Great Western Highway and Bells Line of Road.
Centroc has been pushing for a Bells Line Expressway to improve freight and transport links with Sydney but Ms Pavey said there were other important projects the region needed and could benefit from, such as getting more freight carried by rail.
“I’ve got transport operators coming to me saying ‘with different routes and better freight lines I can reduce my costs of production by 30 per cent’. I’ve got to listen to those conversations as well as the proposal of an expressway,” she said.
“I have to balance all that up but I want to have honest and genuine conversations with the people of the Central West.
“We have already trebled the funding out here. It is a real challenge for our government.
“We are still playing catch-up as well as planning for the future but we will have conversations about the time frame and the costings of the Bells Line of Road in coming weeks
“I’m not going to give time frames that are unrealistic when we have immediate action that we have to take to complete projects on the Great Western Highway.”
Ms Pavey said short term goals for improving roads for the Central West should focus on inter-town travel and improving the Great Western Highway.
“Short term is getting more freight onto rail but for commuters on the Great Western Highway more dual lane, and if we can less speed zones, and better connectivity between Dubbo and Lithgow,” she said.
“There’s a lot of inter-community travel and even from there out to Oberon, Cowra and Mudgee. We need a hollistic freight solution.
“One expressway won’t solve the problem the region has.”