It was perhaps fitting that, on the way to announce community consultation was open for the proposed $2.5 billion duplication of the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow, the officials were delayed - first by a car crash at Katoomba which brought down power lines, and then by roadworks on the Bells Line of Road.
Community consultation on the proposed route, which is proposed to pass through the Hartley Valley using the road corridor identified in Lithgow City Council's local environmental plan, will remain open until December 16.
This video released by the NSW Government explains the proposed route and its goals:
The NSW Government stated it has acquired 23 per cent of the properties along this corridor.
The dual lane duplication aims to reduce travel times and congestion along the 34km length. It is scheduled to begin construction in 2021 and be completed in 2028.
"When you look at this section of road, it's been a real choke point in the past," Bathurst MP Paul Toole said at Hassans Walls Lookout on Thursday, November 7.
"Everyone knows when they travel on the weekends or there are events on out here, people travelling through the Mountains know it comes to a standstill.
"Today we have a minor traffic crash in the Mountains and we have traffic backed up for kilometres [in every direction]."
Bathurst MP Paul Toole speaks on the announcement at Hassans Walls today:
Nationals MLC Sam Farraway said the main benefits for the Bathurst and Orange shires, which were represented on the day, as well as Lithgow, would be in connectivity from the city to the bush.
Mayor of Bathurst Bobby Bourke said the move was "well overdue".
"As a councillor I've been waiting probably 16 years for some good news for the road structure through the Blue Mountains to the Central West," he said.
"I can't wait to see it through to completion."
RMS Western Region director Alistair Lunn said it was a vital connection to Central West, "which we recognise is overdue and well needed".
"The ridge line through the Blue Mountains is very tight as is Hartley Valley," he said.
"We're keen to have as little impact as we can on the Hartley Valley. Back in 2013 we put forward a corridor for the Hartley Valley and we're sticking to that corridor."
Information sessions will be held at Hartley Hall on Wednesday, December 11 from 5pm to 7pm and Hoskins Memorial Uniting Church Hall, Lithgow on Monday, November 25 from 11am to 2pm.
You can find more information on the proposed corridor at rms.work/greatwesternhighway.
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